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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News March 2015

Volume 6, Issue 3: March 2015

PEPH E-News Header

Working Alongside Citizen Scientists In All Stages of Gardenroots Project

Ramirez-andreotta and Liam O'fallon
Ramirez-Andreotta (left) poses with PEPH Program Lead Liam O'Fallon after their session on advancing environmental public health research using citizen science at the inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association, held last month in San Jose, California. The session also included a virtual presentation by Sara Wylie, Ph.D., from Northeastern University and a set of speed talks from practitioners in or entering the field.
Spurred by questions and concerns from community members about whether it was safe to grow and consume vegetables from their gardens, Monica Ramirez-Andreotta, Ph.D., teamed up with the Dewey-Humboldt community in Arizona to build a co-created citizen science program so together they could understand and communicate better the risk of arsenic in homegrown vegetables. The Gardenroots program examined possible contamination of garden soil by arsenic and heavy metals from a neighboring Superfund site, where the residential area is essentially sandwiched between a mine tailings pile and a smelter. A consistent component throughout the project was Ramirez-Andreotta's ongoing communication with, and involvement of, the local community.

Gardenroots engaged community members by training them to conduct their own home garden experiments. Armed with an instructional manual, collection toolkit, and a 1.5-hour training course, citizen scientists collected soil, water, and vegetable samples from their gardens for analysis. Ramirez-Andreotta then measured the arsenic concentration in the home garden samples and estimated arsenic exposure and potential risk to the vegetable gardeners. She observed that in general, many of the vegetables people were growing in their home gardens, such as lettuce, beans, and radishes, had arsenic concentrations greater than those reported in the 2010 U.S. FDA Market Basket Study. Furthermore, Ramirez-Andreotta concluded that the estimated average arsenic daily intake was much greater from drinking water than vegetable consumption – assuming that participant's primary source of water for irrigation was also used for drinking.

Once the results were in, Ramirez-Andreotta hosted community gatherings and workshops to explain the potential risks to community members and provided personalized result booklets for all participants. She reported back the raw data, such as milligrams of arsenic per kilogram of vegetable, and broke down the risk by creating easy-to-understand scales that put participants' soil, water, and vegetable samples in low, medium, or high excess risk categories. She also provided participants with supplemental materials describing recommended gardening practices to reduce an individual's arsenic exposure.

Deviating from traditional modes of risk communication, Ramirez-Andreotta took a unique approach to report study results back to the community. She used a cultural model of risk communication, encouraging citizens, academics, and agencies to work together to combine science and local cultural knowledge to explain potential risks and promote positive behavioral change.

"By building a co-created citizen science program and including a cultural model of risk communication, this project produced exposure and risk data in a form that was directly relevant to the participant's lives and aimed to increase their capacity when working with regulatory agencies that use risk analysis to inform cleanup," Ramirez-Andreotta explained.

Ramirez-Andreotta is one of many in our PEPH Network who are delving into the field of citizen science. In fact, just last month, several of our PEPH colleagues presented at the inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association (CSA) and Ramirez-Andreotta served on the CSA conference planning committee.

"Citizen Science approaches are changing the face of environmental public health research. Community members are leading their own projects or co-developing projects via community-academic partnerships to address environmental health issues," explained Ramirez-Andreotta. "Currently, ecological studies are predominately represented in the CSA, and we really need to work across disciplinary boundaries to learn from one another and share lessons learned from our community-engaged public health research efforts."

Call for Papers: Special Journal Issue on Citizen Science

The International Journal of Science Communication (JCOM) has issued a call for papers for a special issue on citizen science. Papers considering the following themes are particularly welcomed: expectations for and types of engagement in citizen science; citizen science as public engagement; citizen science and scientific citizenship; citizen-initiated or -led projects; impacts on the public, on scientists, and on science; case studies and their evaluation. To be considered for the special issue, papers must be submitted by May 1, 2015. Visit the JCOM website for more information.

Air Sensor Toolbox for Citizen Scientists

EPA's Air Sensor Toolbox for Citizen Scientistsprovides information and guidance on new, low-cost technologies for measuring air quality. Toolbox resources include information about sampling methods, validation approaches, data interpretation, education and outreach, and performance information on low-cost sensors. Check out the Toolboxtoday to learn about, plan, or strengthen a citizen science project! (You also can learn more in our upcoming Citizen Science webinar -- see below.)

Upcoming PEPH Webinars

Please mark your calendars for two upcoming PEPH webinars highlighting issues that are timely and relevant to the environmental public health community:

Risk Communication: Addressing the Needs of Your Community 
David Abramson, Ph.D., M.P.H., New York University
Jeffrey Wickliffe, Ph.D., Tulane University
Friday, March 20, 2015 - 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. EDT

Citizen Science 
Linda Silka, Ph.D., University of Maine
Monica Ramirez-Andreotta, Ph.D., University of Arizona
Ronald Williams, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. EDT

More information will be distributed soon on the PEPH listserv and posted on the PEPH Events page.

Videos from the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Citizen Science Workshop

On January 13-14, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Citizen Science Working Group convened the Trans-NIH Workshop to Explore the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) of Citizen Science in order to identify the ELSI challenges raised by citizen science in the context of biomedical research and to discover ways the NIH can address these ELSI issues. The meeting website  includes YouTube videos of each presentation given at the conference. These videos are a great resource to get an overview of topics discussed at the meeting and to see how leaders in the fields of citizen science and community-engaged research are incorporating ELSI into their work. Several of our PEPH colleagues, including Kelly Edwards, Sacoby Wilson, Steve Wing, Julia Brody, and Elizabeth Yeampierre, presented at the meeting, so be sure to take a few minutes to check out these PEPH-related videos.

I Am Environmental Health -- #IamEH

Do you Tweet or plan to start tweeting about environmental public health? If so, we invite you to join us in using the hashtag - #IamEH - as a way to highlight achievements of researchers, community partners, and young investigators; share success stories; and create conversation around environmental public health topics. Originally started by Naomi Hirsch from Oregon State University (OSU), the "I am Environmental Health" hashtag can be an approach to foster collaborations within the PEPH Network, raise awareness of accomplishments, and catch the attention of a wider audience. For examples of how to use the hashtag, check out the OSU Web page or search Twitter for #IamEH and then start tagging your Tweets with #IamEH to join in the conversation.

Duke COTC Launches "Help Babies Avoid Smoke" Social Media Contest

The Community Outreach and Translation Core (COTC) within the Children's Environmental Health Center at Duke University recently launched a social media contest to help the public learn how early life exposure to environmental tobacco smoke may increase a child's risk of developing attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. To enter, contest participants must read through the COTC's Help Babies Avoid Smoke website and then take a photo and write a caption that demonstrates something they learned from the website. A panel of judges will choose up to 10 winning submissions, and contest winners will receive a $200 cash prize! Contest participants should follow the @helpbabiesavoidsmoke Instagram account and use an "Instagram Direct" private message to submit photos. Make sure to read the contest rules, guidelines, and instructions and then submit your photo by April 1, 2015 to be eligible for the prize.

Webinar Series: Building Understanding of Environmental Health

The FrameWorks Institute recently completed a multi-year, multi-method inquiry into how the American public thinks and talks about environmental health. Sponsored by the American Public Health Association (APHA) and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this research reveals effective strategies for talking with the public about environmental health. Additionally, APHA just released an exciting new set of communication tools and resources based on these findings. To introduce the findings' framing strategies, APHA is hosting a three-part webinar series this spring, conducted by the FrameWorks Institute. Each webinar will focus on a different set of framing resources and strategies. Participants will learn about the research base that supports these tools and come away with new tips and tools they can incorporate into their communications right away. Visit the APHA website to learn more about the webinars listed below, to register, and to check out the communications toolkit!

Navigating the swamp of environmental health: using evidence to craft more effective communications (March 5, 2015, 1:30 - 2:45 p.m. EST)

Framing with values: cuing up productive conversations about environmental health work (April 7, 2015, 1:30 - 2:45 p.m. EDT)

The power of how: using tested metaphors to build public understanding about environmental health (May 5, 2015, 1:30 - 2:45 p.m. EDT)

Job Announcement: COEC Coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania

The Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET) at the University of Pennsylvania is looking for a new Academic Coordinator for the Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC). A bachelor's degree and 1-3 years of experience or equivalent combination of education and experience is required. A Master's of Public Health in progress or completed is preferred. Visit the Jobs@Penn website for more information and to apply. To learn more about the CEET and COEC at the University of Pennsylvania, visit the CEET website.

PEPH Grantee Highlights

This month, we are pleased to share with you the stories of two of our PEPH colleagues, Mitchel Rosen, Ph.D., and Tap Bui. Look below for a brief overview of their work and visit the PEPH Grantee Highlights Web page to learn more about Rosen, Bui, and other PEPH colleagues.

Mitchel Rosen, Ph.D., has been involved with occupational safety and health (OSH) and worker training for almost three decades. He currently serves as the Principal Investigator for the NIEHS-funded New Jersey / New York Hazardous Materials Worker Training Center, which trains people on how to protect themselves when handling hazardous waste and responding to disasters and provides green jobs training to members of underrepresented groups. Rosen also directs several projects for the NIOSH-funded New York and New Jersey Education and Research Center, which provides both graduate and continuing education in the field of OSH. Check out Mitchel Rosen's PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more about his efforts to advance safety in the workplace.

Tap Bui started working for the MQVN Community Development Corporation (MQVNCDC) following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to help address the Vietnamese population's concerns about how the oil spill would affect the fishing industry and whether seafood was safe to eat. Bui and MQVNCDC organized town hall meetings with the goal of helping others understand the issues of concern and even started providing translation services so that the Vietnamese community could understand better the health risks and concerns stemming from the spill. MQVNCDC also worked to empower the Vietnamese community to participate in the compensation fund that BP set up after the spill, educating people on how the claims process worked and encouraging them to seek compensation. Read the Tap Bui PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more about her efforts to provide culturally relevant environmental health information to communities.

PEPH in the Environmental Factor

The latest issue of the NIEHS Environmental Factor features several stories highlighting our PEPH colleagues. Take a moment to catch up with some of the latest projects, events, and activities happening in the PEPH Network:

Distinguished lecture examines prenatal exposures in child development. Frederica Perera, Ph.D., Dr.P.H., discussed her efforts to identify environmental risk factors and prevent adverse health impacts in children.

NIEHS Superfund research training spurs collaboration with EPA. The University of Pennsylvania Superfund Research Program worked closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to plan a day of training on mobile air monitoring technology, groundwater restoration, and community involvement for staff from the EPA mid-Atlantic regional office.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

Environmental health chat logo

The collection of microbes living on and inside of our bodies--the microbiome--impacts our health in myriad ways. Because the microbiome is our body's first point of contact with the environment, these microbes may even affect how we are exposed to some environmental chemicals. In this new podcast, we hear about studies that are underway to assess the relationships between the environment, the microbiome, and human health.

You can find past podcasts on the Environmental Health Chat Web page or subscribe to the series on iTunes.

Upcoming PEPH-related Meetings

March 2 - 3, 2015: The Interplay between Environmental Exposure and Obesity Workshop at the NIEHS's main campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The workshop will be webcast for those who are unable to attend in person.

March 12 - 14, 2015: Eighth Health Disparities Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference will focus on replicable interprofessional collaborative models and approaches from the clinical, research, and community arenas that integrate all levels of providers to improve health outcomes, eliminate health disparities, and achieve health equity.

March 18, 2015: 14th Annual Pediatric Research Day in Detroit, Michigan. This year's conference theme is Community Engagement in Child and Maternal Health. The conference is co-sponsored by the Michigan State University Superfund Research Program.

March 24 - 28, 2015: Society for Applied Anthropology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There will be several sessions addressing PEPH-related issues of environmental justice, community-engaged research, citizen science, and hydraulic fracturing. Sara Wylie, Ph.D., will chair a session on fracking and citizen science, and members from several COECs will participate in a session on community-engaged research and fracking.

March 26, 2015: NC BREATHE Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. The purpose of the NC BREATHE Conference is to provide an interactive forum for environmental, air quality, and health researchers; healthcare professionals and care givers; and policy makers and advocates to share the latest information on the impact of air quality on health and to discuss the critical role public policy plays in protecting the health of society.

April 13, 2015: Achieving Health Equity Through Community Partnerships: Innovations in Community-Based Participatory Research in New York City. The all-day symposium will promote and discuss achieving health equity through community partnerships, with a focus on community-based participatory research. Submit a poster by March 30, 2015.

May 6 - 8, 2015: Save the date for the NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration in Baltimore, Maryland. Each year, the NIH Office of Extramural Research sponsors these seminars to help demystify the application and review process, clarify Federal regulations and policies, and highlight current areas of special interest or concern. The seminars are appropriate for grants administrators, researchers new to NIH, and graduate students. These seminars often reach capacity, so register today.

May 21 - 22, 2015: Social Science - Environmental Health Interdisciplinary Collaborations Conference at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. The Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI) and Silent Spring Institute, with co-sponsorship from the Puerto Rico Test Site for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT - Superfund Research Program), will hold a first-ever conference on "Social Science - Environmental Health Interdisciplinary Collaborations." Funded by the NIEHS, the conference will bring together scholars, government agency professionals, and community-based organizations working at the intersection of social science and environmental health to review the field, develop best practices for future research, and support training and multi-disciplinary environmental health research. In addition to regular speakers, there will be workshops and discussion groups. Registration details will be available soon at the SSEHRI website.

May 26 - 29, 2015: C2UExpo in Ottawa, Ontario. C2UExpo is an international conference designed to showcase best practices in community-campus partnerships; create space for collaboration around key issues; and foster ideas, connections, and frameworks with the purpose of strengthening communities. Registration will open winter/spring 2015.

August 4 - 6, 2015: 2015 U.S. EPA Community Involvement Training Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The theme of this year's conference is "Making a Visible Difference in Communities." Submit a presentation proposal by March 4, 2015. Registration is expected to open in late May 2015.

August 10 - 13, 2015: Save the date for the 16th International Conference of the Pacific Basin Consortium (PBC) in Depok, Indonesia! Traditional areas covered by PBC conferences include: hazardous waste management and remediation, e-waste, air pollution, persistent toxic substances, emerging pollutants, global climate change, and children's environmental health.

Funding Opportunities

Visit the PEPH Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) page for more PEPH-related funding opportunities.

Infrastructure to Support Comprehensive Exposure Analysis for Children's Health Studies. NIEHS is establishing an infrastructure, the Children's Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR), to provide the extramural research community access to laboratory and statistical analyses to add or expand the inclusion of environmental exposures in their research. CHEAR is being solicited through three distinct, but interrelated, FOAs. Click the links below for more information about each FOA. Deadlines: March 30, 2015 (letter of intent); April 30, 2015 (application).

Understanding and Promoting Health Literacy (R01, R03, R21). The goal of this program announcement is to encourage methodological, intervention, and dissemination research for understanding and promoting health literacy. Deadlines: June 5, 2015 (R01); June 16, 2015 (R03, R21). Learn more about NIEHS areas of interest.

Addressing Health Disparities in Maternal and Child Health through Community-Based Participatory Research (R03). This FOA supports community-based participatory research projects planned and developed by recipients of the Phase I Academic-Community Partnerships Conference Series awards under PAR-09-092 and PAR-12-102. Deadlines: November 20, 2015 (application); a letter of intent is due 30 days before the application due date.

Mentored Career Development Award in Biomedical Big Data Science for Clinicians and Doctorally Prepared Scientists (K01). This Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) FOA solicits applications for a mentored career development award in the area of Big Data Science. The aim of the initiative is to support additional mentored training of scientists who will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to be independent researchers, as well as to work in a team environment to develop new Big Data technologies, methods, and tools applicable to basic and clinical research. Deadlines: April 1, 2015 (application); a letter of intent is due 30 days before the application due date.

Interventions for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Native American Populations (R01). The purpose of this FOA is to develop, adapt, and test the effectiveness of health promotion and disease prevention interventions in Native American populations. Deadline: May 12, 2015 (application); a letter of intent is due 30 days before the application due date.


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