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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News May 2016

Volume 7, Issue 5: May 2016

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New Report Summarizes How Climate Change May Threaten Public Health

Climate change is a significant threat to the health of the American people, according to a Climate and Health Assessment released April 2016. The report, developed by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) — a coordinated effort of 13 federal agencies, including NIEHS — draws from current research to expand our understanding of climate-related health impacts. "Climate change compounds existing health disparities and disproportionate environmental exposures, creating a significant health threat for some individuals and communities," said John Balbus, M.D., who helped lead a working group to coordinate the development of the report. "This report pays special attention to studies that explore the climate change-related vulnerabilities of specific populations of concern, illuminating how climate risks interact with social determinants of health."

The report provides evidence-based summaries of health impacts linked to specific climate-related exposures, such as poor air quality and extreme temperatures. NIEHS played a key role in the development of the report, including its "Populations of Concern" chapter, in which Balbus, NIEHS Senior Advisor for Public Health, and Kimberly Thigpen Tart, J.D., M.P.H., program analyst in the Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation, served as lead and contributing authors, respectively.

The "Populations of Concern" chapter explains how some people or communities, including indigenous peoples, the elderly, workers, and children and pregnant women, are especially vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change. This increased vulnerability is due to differences in exposures, sensitivity to these exposures, and adaptive capacity to respond to climate-related threats. These determinants of vulnerability vary across time and space as well as with an individual's age and life stage. Socioeconomic factors and other social determinants of health can lead to certain people having multiple risk factors and far greater vulnerability than the general population.

Children and pregnant women are among the vulnerable groups discussed in the chapter. Children are especially vulnerable to climate-related exposures because their bodily systems are still developing. "We know that children have windows of increased susceptibility to environmental health impacts, including those from climate change, both prenatally and throughout childhood that can have long-term effects on their development and quality of life," said Thigpen Tart.

For example, poorer air quality resulting from climate change places children at greater risk for asthma and other respiratory illnesses because their lungs are still developing. And prenatal exposure to particulate matter, extreme heat events, and floods can lead to adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight and preterm birth. Vulnerability to these health impacts are further influenced by social and economic factors. For example, low-income families are less likely to have access to air conditioning to moderate the effects of extreme heat.

The chapter closes by highlighting how public health and emergency responders can identify and protect specific populations from climate-related threats by using mapping tools and vulnerability indices, such as those developed in the NIEHS Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge. These tools link information on social determinants of health, measures of adaptive capacity, and climate data to help decision makers determine where best to position resources for vulnerable populations.

Learn more about the health impacts of climate change on the USGCRP Climate and Health Assessment Web page.


Over 200 federally supported citizen science projects for students and adults are now accessible from a single place: Find information, resources, and tools for people of all ages who are actively engaged — or looking to participate — in citizen science and crowdsourcing projects. The site provides a portal to three key components: a searchable catalog of federally supported citizen science projects, a toolkit to assist with designing and maintaining projects, and a gateway to the federal community of practice to connect with other practitioners. Three of the projects featured in the catalog were funded by NIEHS: "Gardenroots," "Gulf Coast Health Alliance: Health Risks Related to the Macondo Spill (GC-HARMS)," and "Understanding the Effect of Unconventional Gas Drilling on Air Quality." Explore current projects and look for new ones to be posted in the future on

NIEHS Grantees Find School Program in Rural Bangladesh Reduces Arsenic Exposure

NIEHS grantees from Columbia University were recently featured in a Fogarty International Center highlight on their study, which found that an arsenic education program based in elementary schools was successful in convincing families to switch to safe water sources. Students who received arsenic education were five times more likely to switch to a safer well, compared to control groups. The children receiving the intervention also had a significantly greater decline in urinary arsenic, a biomarker of exposure, than the controls. See the Fogarty Global Health Matters Newsletter to read more.

Job Opportunities: Duke Superfund Research Center

The Duke University Superfund Research Center (SRC) is seeking applicants for two positions:

Project Coordinator: This position focuses on bi-directional community engagement and the communication of science and policy related to hazardous chemicals. The Project Coordinator is based within the Duke SRC and works closely with researchers and other staff. The ideal candidate will be grounded in best practices of community engagement and research translation in public and environmental health and will have significant previous experience in the approaches we propose (e.g., community engagement, social marketing, research translation for professional and lay audiences, and/or community-based participatory research); significant experience in environmental health, toxicology, or health sciences; and an interest in ensuring that the influence of research in these areas extends beyond the academy.

Summer Internship: This summer internship will support the development of Duke SRC's community garden engagement project through conducting literature reviews, helping to define the geographic extent of these issues in North Carolina, and creating a resource inventory for community gardeners and other stakeholders. The community garden project will help participants in community gardens in North Carolina understand and reduce their potential exposure to pesticides and soil contaminants. Some or all of the following skills or experience are desired: agricultural or community garden experience, geospatial analysis (e.g., ArcGIS), statistical analysis, ecotoxicology or toxicology, and public and/or environmental health.

The Duke SRC plans to move forward with its hiring process quickly, especially for the summer internship. If you have questions about the positions, contact Bryan Luukinen.

PEPH Webinar: Urban Gardening

Please join us for the next PEPH Webinar, which will focus on Safe Urban Gardening. The webinar is scheduled for May 26, 2016, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. EDT. Stay tuned for more information. Registration is required to join the webinar.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

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Listen to the Safe Urban Gardening podcast to learn why soil contamination makes gardening potentially risky in some areas. You also will hear experts explain what recent research can tell us about safe gardening practices.

You can find more podcasts on the Environmental Health Chat Web page or subscribe to the series on iTunes. We want your feedback! Send comments and ideas for future podcasts to

PEPH Grantee Highlight: Susan Schantz, Ph.D.

In our latest Grantee Highlight, we feature Susan Schantz, Ph.D., who directs the Children's Environmental Health Research Center at Illinois. The Center's focus is on examining the effects of exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, and other chemicals found in plastics and personal care products on neurological and reproductive development and function.

PEPH in the Environmental Factor

The latest issue of the NIEHS Environmental Factor featured several stories highlighting topics and activities of interest to the PEPH community:

Climate Challenge winners collaborate across disciplines. Winners of the NIEHS Climate Challenge designed tools to help decision makers protect public health in the face of climate change.

Deepwater Horizon Research Consortia wrap up projects. At their final meeting, university and community grantees shared findings on mental health, community resilience, and the safety of seafood.

Progress and challenges in disaster research response. The third annual federal interagency briefing explored progress on facilitating research after disasters, as well as the challenges that remain.

Call for Images of NIH-Funded Research

NIH is requesting images from the extramural community that highlight scientific research made possible by NIH funding. Chosen images will be posted to the NIH Image Gallery on Flickr in the Funded Research album and will be considered free to reuse, if appropriate credit is given. The NIH Image Gallery is a resource for news media, educational institutions, and the general public. It averages 5,000 views per day. Through the sharing of images, NIH hopes to distribute educational information, increase public outreach, and expand awareness of the important work being done by NIH-funded researchers. See the NIH Call for Images Web page for submission requirements. Submissions are due May 16, 2016.

EPA Seeks Nominations for Scientific Advisory Committees

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invites nominations of scientific experts from a diverse range of disciplines to be considered for appointment to the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB), and the following five SAB committees: Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee, Drinking Water Committee, Environmental Economics Advisory Committee, Environmental Engineering Committee, and Radiation Advisory Committee.

The CASAC provides independent advice to the EPA Administrator on the technical bases for EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The SAB is authorized to provide independent advice on a broad range of scientific matters, including review of the quality and relevance of the scientific and technical information being used by the EPA or proposed as the basis for Agency regulations. Members of the CASAC and the SAB constitute a diverse and distinguished body of non-EPA scientists, engineers, economists, and behavioral and social scientists. Members are appointed by the EPA Administrator for a 3-year term. More information about serving on the CASAC or the SAB and requirements for advisors is available on the SAB Web page. Nominations are due May 6, 2016. See the Federal Register Notice for more information.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

May 3 - 4, 2016: Environmental Public Health Tracking Virtual Conference. This virtual conference will serve as a platform to raise awareness and inform state health department chronic disease directors and appropriate staff of the value and usage of CDC's National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network. Conference topics will include asthma, air quality, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, heart disease, health equity and the environment, and others. The Conference is free of charge for all attendees.

May 11 - 13, 2016: NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration in Baltimore, Maryland. The NIH Regional Seminar offers a comprehensive program for the NIH extramural community about the NIH grants process and related policies.

June 1 - 3, 2016: URISA's 2016 GIS and Health Symposium. The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), in partnership with the American Public Health Association, will host the 2016 GIS and Health Symposium. This year's theme is "Mapping the Way to Healthy Communities."

June 12 - 17, 2016: Emory Exposome Summer Course on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. This weeklong course is designed to provide a comprehensive and intensive overview of the emerging science of the exposome. Leading experts will provide updates on scientific progress on the exposome and related areas. In addition, interactive laboratory sessions will allow the participants to use cloud-based programs to analyze exposome-related datasets. Two poster sessions will highlight relevant research, including general environmental health science research not presently taking advantage of current exposome approaches. Abstract submissions extended to May 10. Registration extended to May 13. Additional information, including the full agenda and list of course faculty are available on the Exposome Course Web page.

June 13 - 16, 2016: NEHA 2016 AEC and HUD Healthy Homes Conference in San Antonio, Texas. This year, the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) Annual Education Conference (AEC) and the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Healthy Homes Conference will be held jointly. The conference is the nexus for environmental health training, education, networking, and advancement.

June 19 - 23, 2016: Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists 2016 Annual Conference in Anchorage, Alaska. Attendees from across the country will meet to share expertise in surveillance and epidemiology, as well as best practices in a broad range of areas, including informatics, infectious diseases, immunizations, environmental health, occupational health, chronic disease, injury control, and maternal and child health.

August 25 - 26, 2016: Advancing the Science of Community Engaged Research Conference Series, in Washington, D.C. This year's conference theme is "Innovative and Effective Methods of Engagement."

September 8, 2016: Disaster Health Education Symposium in Bethesda, Maryland. Registration is now open for the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health "Disaster Health Education Symposium: Innovations for Tomorrow." Breakout session topics are scheduled to include: Innovations in Practice; Disaster Health Education and Training that Saves Lives; Innovations in Teaching Our Students; and Emerging Infectious Diseases. Submit a poster abstract by June 27, 2016. There is no cost to attend this workshop, but registration is required.

October 29 - November 2, 2016: American Public Health Association (APHA) 2016 Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado. This year's conference theme is "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health.

December 5 - 8, 2016: NIEHS Environmental Health Science FEST (EHS Fest) in Durham, North Carolina. As part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations, NIEHS is organizing the EHS FEST to bring together researchers, community engagement teams, trainees, and young investigators, all supported by NIEHS, for several days of scientific dialog. Please hold these dates on your calendar and RSVP online.

Funding Opportunities

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

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. Deadlines: April 12, 2016 (letter of intent); May 12, 2016 (application).

Research to Action: Assessing and Addressing Community Exposures to Environmental Contaminants (R01). Encourages applications using community-engaged research methods to investigate the potential health risks of environmental exposures of concern to the community and to implement an environmental public health action plan based on research findings. Open Date: May 5, 2016. Deadline: Standard receipt dates apply (February 5, June 5, October 5).

Immunity in Neonates and Infants (U01). The purpose of this FOA is to advance current knowledge of the developing immune system during the first year of life and to encourage innovative approaches to understand more fully the distinct characteristics of neonatal/infant immune responses. Deadlines: June 29, 2016 (letter of intent); July 29, 2016 (application).

Education and Health: New Frontiers (R01, R03, R21). Supports research that will further elucidate the pathways involved in the relationship between education and health outcomes and in doing so to carefully identify the specific aspects and qualities of education that are responsible for this relationship and what the mediating factors are that affect the nature of the causal relationship. Deadlines: June 5, 2016 (R01); June 16, 2016 (R03, R21).

Spatial Uncertainty: Data, Modeling, and Communication (R01). Supports innovative research that identifies sources of spatial uncertainty in public health data, incorporates the inaccuracy or instability into statistical methods, and develops novel tools to visualize the nature and consequences of spatial uncertainty. Deadline: June 5, 2016.

Health Promotion Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Males (R21). Specifically, this initiative is intended to (1) enhance our understanding of the numerous factors influencing the health promoting behaviors of racial and ethnic minority males and their subpopulations across the life cycle and (2) encourage applications focusing on the development and testing of culturally and linguistically appropriate health-promoting interventions designed to reduce health disparities among racially and ethnically diverse males and their subpopulations age 21 and older. Deadline: June 16, 2016.

Understanding and Promoting Health Literacy (R01, R03, R21). Encourages methodological, intervention, and dissemination research for understanding and promoting health literacy. Deadlines: June 5, 2016 (R01); June 16, 2016 (R03, R21). Learn more about NIEHS areas of interest.

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