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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News January 2017

Volume 8, Issue 1: January 2017

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Summit Addresses Community-Engaged Research and Citizen Science

On December 8 - 9, 2016, NIEHS staff and grantees joined the Research Triangle Environmental Health Collaborative (EHC) for its annual Environmental Health Summit, titled Community Engaged Research and Citizen Science, which examined community-engaged research (CEnR) and citizen science in the context of environmental health. Held in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, the summit brought together more than 100 researchers, community partners, and public health professionals with representatives from local, state, and federal agencies. Typically a regional event, this year's summit became more of a national conversation with participation from stakeholders already in the area for the NIEHS Environmental Health Science FEST (EHS FEST).

"We wanted to leverage two important meetings to inform this national discussion on community-engaged research and citizen science. It was important to have grantees and their community partners attend both EHS FEST and the summit to share their knowledge and expertise," said PEPH program lead Liam O'Fallon, who helped organize both events.

After a day of plenary presentations and panel discussions, summit attendees spent the second day in workgroups, sharing best practices, identifying challenges and opportunities, and making recommendations for advancing CEnR and citizen science. Each of the three work groups focused on a specific CEnR and citizen science topic: data and technology; ethical, legal, and social issues; and the conduct of citizen science and CEnR. Workgroups later came together to share highlights from their discussions and to identify opportunities for collaboration.

Attendees agreed that CEnR and citizen science approaches offer many benefits to environmental health research, including improving science literacy, building trust between researchers and communities, and incorporating local knowledge into the research process. Some of the biggest challenges identified during the meeting centered on data, such as how to ensure that quality data are collected during a citizen science project and how to share or publish data while also protecting the privacy of study participants.

"Bringing community partners in research and citizen scientists to the summit keeps us aware of the most critical issues to communities and what information the public is seeking through their involvement in the research. Those without scientific training tend to think outside the box and may identify new questions or priorities that differ from the stated goals of research – this can only expand the potential of science to actually address environmental health risks that affect communities," explained Symma Finn, Ph.D., an NIEHS health scientist administrator who specializes in CEnR.

In the coming months, summit attendees will develop a meeting report to increase awareness of the different CEnR and citizen science approaches used in environmental health science research, inform ongoing discussions among federal partners about citizen science, and outline next steps to meet the needs of communities. "We have found the annual summits to be very informative, producing recommendations important not only for regional but also national and international organizations concerned with emerging environmental health challenges," said Martin Armes, EHC Executive Director.

Read the NIEHS Environmental Factor article to learn more about the EHC Summit.

Reporting Results to Participants Can Improve Environmental Health Literacy

Including a report back process into a biomonitoring study can improve participants' environmental health literacy, according to a new study funded by NIEHS. After conducting 14 interviews with parents who had participated in the University of Arizona's Metals Exposure Study in Homes (MESH), which included an individual result report back process, the researchers found that participants used the data to cope with their challenging circumstances, change their families' household behaviors, and implement specific interventions to reduce family exposures. These findings provide insight into what people learn and gain from report back efforts, what participants want to know, and what type of additional information participants need to advance their environmental health literacy.

You can access this, along with other PEPH-relevant articles, in a special issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Environmental Justice Research: Contemporary Issues and Emerging Topics.

Personal Environmental Exposure Measurement Workshop Presentations Now Available

Presentations from the Personal Environmental Exposure Measurements workshop, held November 16 -17, 2016, in Washington, D.C., are now available. Organized by the NIEHS-sponsored Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions (ESEHD) committee, the workshop explored the nuanced implications of citizen access to individual-level environmental exposure data. Workshop participants provided an overview of the trends, tests, technologies, and other emerging capabilities that enable access to individual-level environmental exposure data and discussed their implications for risk communication, public engagement, and decision making, among other key considerations for both scientists and citizens. You can download PDFs of individual presentations or view the archived webcast of the presentations and discussion panels on the ESEHD website.

OBSSR Releases New Strategic Plan

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health has released a new strategic plan for 2017 - 2021. The strategic plan focuses on improving the synergy of basic and applied behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR); enhancing and promoting the research infrastructure, methods, and measures needed to support a more cumulative and integrated approach to BSSR; and facilitating the adoption of BSSR findings in health research and in practice. To address these scientific priorities, OBSSR will communicate BSSR findings, coordinate BSSR programs across NIH, train the next generation of BSSR scientists, and evaluate the impact of BSSR research.

Visit OBSSR's 2017 - 2021 Strategic Plan to learn more.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Launches Arsenic Sensor Challenge

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation launched the Arsenic Sensor Challenge to identify new or improved sensors, devices, or test kits to test for arsenic in water within natural and engineered systems. Solutions must improve on the current arsenic measurement methods. Areas of needed improvement include: performance, ease of use, reduction in hazardous waste production, data interpretation, and cost. This is stage one of a planned two-stage challenge, with the second stage consisting of a prototype demonstration. In stage one, participants will submit an idea, along with detailed descriptions, specifications, supporting data or literature, and requirements necessary to bring the idea closer to becoming a product. Submissions are due March 13, 2017.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

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Air Quality Monitoring for Citizen Science explores strengths and limitations of air quality monitors used in citizen science projects and offers strategies for citizen scientists as they get started. With new, low-cost sensor technologies and apps, everyday citizens can monitor air pollution on-the-go where they live, work, and play – providing valuable information for individuals and communities, as well as troves of data for scientific research. Ron Williams with the U.S. EPA will discuss how accurate and appropriate these technologies are to meet the goals of community groups.

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 Highlights: Matthew Dellinger, Ph.D., and Jill E. Johnston, Ph.D.

Matthew Dellinger, Ph.D., uses documentary filmmaking, storytelling, and painting to provide culturally tailored fish consumption advice to Native Americans. Dellinger, an assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, focuses his research on understanding and increasing the health literacy of the Chippewa, Ottowa, and Potawatomi Tribes, who live in the Upper Great Lakes region. With funding from the NIEHS, he recently developed a smartphone app that incorporates his own woodland-style paintings of fish to present fish consumption information in a culturally relevant way. Moving forward, he will use his documentary filmmaking skills to incorporate digital storytelling videos into outreach efforts linked to his research. Read the PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more.

Jill E. Johnston, Ph.D., uses environmental health research paired with community engagement to improve health and motivate policy change. An assistant professor at the University of Southern California (USC), where she also serves as co-director of the NIEHS-funded USC Environmental Health Sciences Center's Community Outreach and Engagement Core, Johnston is investigating lead exposures in children living in communities near a former lead-acid battery smelter. She works with these communities to develop outreach materials and organizes community meetings to ensure residents understand study results. Johnston also is working with the community and with county and city officials to develop a remediation plan for the former smelter site. Read the PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more.

PEPH in the NIEHS Environmental Factor

EHS FEST in the January Environmental Factor

On December 5 - 8, 2016 more than 1,200 researchers, trainees, young investigators, community partners, and stakeholders gathered in Durham, North Carolina, for the first-ever Environmental Health Science FEST (EHS FEST). Participants shared past successes, explored the future of the environmental health sciences, and celebrated 50 years of NIEHS. Read more about EHS FEST in the January issue of the NIEHS Environmental Factor:

PEPH in the December Environmental Factor

Remembering Steve Wing – a passion for environmental justice. Steve Wing, Ph.D., an internationally known epidemiologist with a passion for environmental justice, passed away on November 9. Steve was a friend, educator, and mentor to many and truly someone who cared about the people he served.

Celebrating public health and NIEHS. NIEHS participation at the American Public Health Association meeting in Denver emphasized recent public health milestones and paths forward.

Capitol Hill events mark 50th anniversary. NIEHS 50th anniversary events included a November 16 legislative briefing and congressional reception, sponsored by the Friends of NIEHS.

Local high school turns to NIEHS for help developing magnet curriculum. Wake County (North Carolina) schools are getting help from NIEHS as one high school transitions into a magnet program for medical sciences and global health.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

January 24 - 26, 2017: NCSE 2017 Integrating Environment and Health in Washington, D.C. Organized by the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), this conference will bring together researchers, educators, students, policymakers, and entrepreneurs to explore environmental and human health connections.

February 15 - 17, 2017: Unleashing the Power of Communities: Achieving Health, Well-Being, and Equity in San Antonio, Texas. Organized by Communities Joined in Action (CJA), this conference will help community leaders better understand how to work toward creating equity in health and health care delivery.

March 2 - 3, 2017: Migrant Labor and Global Health (MLGH) Conference on the University of California, Davis campus. The MLGH Conference serves as a platform to explore the multidisciplinary aspects of migration and their impact on health.

March 8 - 10, 2017: National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program in Washington, D.C. Leaders from various sectors will engage in 3 days of a free exchange of ideas and approaches to achieving environmental justice. The program will highlight the needs and challenges of communities, governments, municipalities, tribes, faith-based organizations, and others with an interest in environmental justice.

March 9 - 11, 2017:Association for Community Health Improvement (ACHI) National Conference in Denver, Colorado. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, luncheons, discussion groups and other networking events.

May 17 - 20, 2017: Citizen Science Association (CSA) Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. Please join CSA for CitSci2017 and be part of conversations to create a field of citizen science.

June 14 - 15, 2017: Highly Fluorinated Compounds – Social and Scientific Discovery in Boston, Massachusetts. Save the date for this two-day conference, which will address the social, scientific, political, economic, and environmental health issues raised by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). A detailed program will be published online in early 2017. To be notified when registration opens, please send your email address to Stephanie Knutson (

Funding Opportunities

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

Environmental Justice Small Grants. EPA's Environmental Justice Small Grants program provides financial assistance to community-based organizations and local and tribal governments working on projects to address environmental and public health concerns. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

Addressing Health Disparities through Effective Interventions among Immigrant Populations (R01). Supports innovative research to develop and implement effective interventions to address health disparities among U.S. immigrant populations. Deadline: February 5, 2017.

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: February 5, 2017.

Environmental Exposures and Health: Exploration of Non-Traditional Settings (R01, R21). Encourages interdisciplinary research aimed at promoting health, preventing and limiting symptoms and disease, and reducing health disparities across the lifespan for those living or spending time in non-traditional settings (i.e., playgrounds and nursing homes). Deadlines: February 5, 2017 (R01); February 16, 2017 (R21).

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. Deadline: Standard receipt dates apply (February 5, June 5, October 5).

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: February 5, 2017 (R01); February 16, 2017 (R03, R21).

Health Disparities and Alzheimer's Disease (R01). Supports research to study health disparities in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related disorders. Health-disparities research related to AD should include the study of biological, behavioral, sociocultural, and environmental factors that influence population-level health differences. Deadline: February 5, 2017.

Using a Total Environment Framework (Built, Natural, Social Environments) to Assess Lifelong Health Effects of Chemical Exposures. The U.S. EPA, through its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, seeks applications for research on how pollution affects human health in the context of the total environment – built, natural, and social environments interacting together with inherent characteristics and interactions. Deadline: March 2, 2017.

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, 2017 (application); a letter of intent is due 30 days before the application due date.

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