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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News July 2017

Volume 8, Issue 7: July 2017

PEPH E-News Header

Crowdsourcing Helps Researchers Study Housing and Air Pollution

NIEHS-funded researchers are using crowdsourcing to classify housing factors that may cause some Chelsea, Massachusetts residents to be exposed to higher levels of indoor or outdoor air pollution than others. The researchers hope to identify drivers of varying exposure to air pollution across Chelsea by combining (1) photos of homes cataloged with various characteristics and (2) data such as air pollution levels and sociodemographic factors.

"Crowdsourcing allows us to classify large numbers of photos and quickly generate data that informs our research," said Patricia Fabian, Sc.D., a professor of environmental health at Boston University (BU). "It is also a great tool to engage community stakeholders and generate information useful for the community."

According to Fabian, people spend most of their time indoors, and their behavior can influence their exposure to air pollution from both indoor and outdoor sources. Behaviors such as opening windows can have a positive or negative effect on air pollution exposure, depending on housing and neighborhood factors, explained Fabian. For example, opening windows during rush hour in a home close to a major roadway increases exposure to outdoor air pollution. However, opening windows when frying food in a home with no exhaust fan reduces exposure to indoor air pollution.

"Understanding housing characteristics and resident behaviors can help us target interventions to reduce air pollution exposures," said Fabian, who leads the Mapping Spatial Patterns in Environmental Health Disparities (MAP-EHD) study within the Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH). CRESSH is a partnership between the BU School of Public Health and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The MAP-EHD team photographed 1,100 homes in Chelsea and created a crowdsourced online survey using the ArcGIS Photo Survey tool. Based on guidance from CRESSH community partners, the team asked volunteers – mainly academics and CRESSH newsletter readers – to review the photos and classify specific factors for each home that may influence indoor air pollution levels, such as open windows or the presence of a wall or window AC unit. The MAP-EHD team created detailed instructions to help volunteers answer survey questions consistently and ensure data accuracy.

This summer, the researchers are expanding the survey to include questions that will generate information beneficial to the community. For example, CRESSH community partners expressed interest in using the photo survey method to identify neighborhood tree plots, recycling bin use, and graffiti. They will report survey results back to community partners and hope to increase community interest in both the results and the photo survey tool.

The MAP-EHD team is now merging photo survey results with publicly available sociodemographic, housing, meteorological, and land-use data. They also will incorporate data on particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide levels across Chelsea. Using an integrated database, the researchers will then build statistical models to better understand and predict factors that affect air pollution exposure in the home.

"Information from this study will help us [to] predict resident behavior and housing characteristics that modify air pollution exposure and to consider how these factors impact health and contribute to environmental health disparities," said Fabian.

PEPH Grantee Highlights: Melanie Pearson and Carmen M. Vélez-Vega

Community outreach specialist Melanie Pearson, Ph.D., connects Atlanta residents with Emory University scientists to address local environmental health concerns. Pearson co-directs with Michelle Kegler, Dr.P.H.,the Community Engagement Core within Emory's HERCULES Exposome Research Center, which has started a successful grant program to fund community-based organizations addressing local environmental health issues. "There is deep knowledge within the community about the community," said Pearson. By harnessing this knowledge, Pearson ensures HERCULES Center research is relevant and meaningful to Atlanta residents. Read the PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more.

Carmen Vélez-Vega, Ph.D., co-leads with Phil Brown, Ph.D., the community engagement core for the Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) Center and the community outreach and translation core for the Center for Research on Early Childhood Exposure and Development in Puerto Rico (CRECE). In this role, Vélez-Vega is responsible for building trust with women enrolled in Center studies, reporting back study results, and working with local health care professionals to educate families about health risks associated with environmental exposures. Recently, Vélez-Vega has become involved in the ongoing Zika in Infants and Pregnancy (ZIP) study in Puerto Rico. Read the PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more.

PEPH Webinar: Community-Based Air Monitoring

On August 24, from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. EDT, PEPH will be hosting a webinar focused on community-based air monitoring. Residents in communities across the country are often curious or concerned about the quality of the air they breathe and how it may affect their health or the health of family and friends. While many locations have air monitors, those monitors are sometimes not in communities of concern. With the advent of smaller, low-cost sensors, residents have become increasingly engaged in monitoring the air quality in their neighborhoods so as to understand and reduce potential health risks. Please register and join us as presenters from two academic-community partnerships discuss their air-monitoring projects.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

Environmental Health Chat

In the Understanding Bioavailability of Arsenic and Lead in Soils at Hazardous Waste Sites podcast, learn how metals like arsenic and lead can be absorbed into the body following contact with contaminated soil – and learn how to reduce your exposure.

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

PEPH in the June NIEHS Environmental Factor

Arsenic website helps identify sources and reduce exposures. A new website from Dartmouth College shares information on steps people can take to reduce exposures to arsenic in water, food, and other sources.

Asian worker health group learns about U.S. disaster response research. Aubrey Miller, M.D., discussed the Disaster Research Response program at an Asian occupational health conference in Taiwan.

Provide Your Input to Update the NIEHS Strategic Plan

As the end of the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan approaches, NIEHS is seeking input from the environmental health science community, stakeholders, and the public to guide the next 5-year phase of the Institute's work. Your input is critical! Please complete a Trends & Insights survey to share your thoughts and ideas for future research priorities for NIEHS.

Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit Now Available as a Mobile App

Now available as a mobile app, the Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit (PEHT) makes it easy for clinicians to provide parents environmental health information during well-child visits. Endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the toolkit provides evidence-based overviews on child health hazards related to air, water, food, and everyday products. It also offers age-specific guidance on how to avoid harmful environmental factors. The PEHT was created by the Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) at the University of California, San Francisco in collaboration with Physicians for Social Responsibility.

New Widget Makes It Easy to Share Health Disparities Data

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 initiative recently launched a web application, called a widget, that makes it easy to share health disparities data on your organization's website. The health disparities widget lets users browse by disparity type or Leading Health Indicator (LHI), then view the data in clear graphics. LHIs are critical health issues, such as environmental quality and access to health services, that – if tackled appropriately – will dramatically reduce the leading causes of death and preventable illnesses. The widget is easy to add to any webpage, and content will update automatically.

Science Communication Video Contest

The 2017 Science Showcase Video Contest aims to celebrate the best in researcher-created science videos. To enter, researchers will create an engaging video to effectively communicate a specific aspect of science, technology, or engineering to a broad public audience. Qualifying videos will be posted on the Science Showcase YouTube channel, and the best will be reviewed by a distinguished panel of guest judges. The contest is sponsored by Arizona State University's Risk Innovation Lab. Visit the contest website for more information. Video submissions are due August 31.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

July 10 - 13, 2017: NEHA Annual Educational Conference (AEC) and Exhibition in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The National Environmental Health Association's (NEHA) AEC is the nexus for environmental health training, education, networking, and advancement. AEC attendees can earn Continuing Education credits.

July 19, 2017: Community-Based Health Literacy Interventions Workshop in Washington, D.C. Organized by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Health and Medicine Division, this one-day workshop will feature moderated panels, invited presentations, and discussions of community-based health literacy interventions. Registrants may attend in person or via webcast.

August 14 - 18, 2017: NIMHD Health Disparities Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Hosted by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), this program supports the development of promising minority health / health disparities research scientists early in their careers.

September 18 - 19, 2017: National Native Health Research Training Conference in Denver, Colorado. The conference theme is "Healing Ourselves: Cultural- and Traditional Medicine-based Approaches to Sustainable Health."

September 18 - 20, 2017: PEPH Meeting at NIEHS's main campus in Durham, North Carolina. This year, we will have in-depth conversations about different engagement approaches and the audiences with whom we work. We also are working with the Disaster Research Response network to discuss the different partnerships required for an effective response in the aftermath of a disaster.

September 24 - 28, 2017: 29th Annual Conference of the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) in Sydney, Australia. This year's theme: "Healthy places, healthy people – where are the connections?"

October 15 - 19, 2017: International Society of Exposure Science (ISES) Annual Meeting in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Mark your calendars for the 27th annual ISES meeting! Registration is now open.

October 22 - 25, 2017: American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America Meeting in Tampa, Florida. This year's theme is "Managing Global Resources for a Secure Future." NIEHS grantee Monica Ramirez-Andreotta is co-organizing and moderating a session titled "Community Engagement and Public Participation in Environmental Research."

November 4 - 8, 2017: APHA Annual Meeting & Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. This year's theme is "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health."

Funding Opportunities

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

NIH Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings (Parent R13). To support investigator-initiated scientific meetings that will advance the field of environmental health sciences. See the NIEHS Conference Grant webpage for more information about the types of conferences and meetings the Institute is interested in supporting. Deadline: August 12, 2017 (application); a letter requesting permission to submit a conference application is due July 1.

USDA Rural Community Development Initiative Grants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications under the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI). RCDI grants are awarded to help non-profit housing and community development organizations, low-income rural communities, and federally recognized tribes support housing, community facilities, and community and economic development projects in rural areas. Deadline: July 25, 2017.

2017 HHS SBIR and STTR Omnibus Grant Solicitations (R41/R42, R43/R44). Invites eligible United States small business concerns to submit Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant applications. An informational webinar will be held Thursday June 29, 2017 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. EDT. Deadline: September 5, 2017.

Kresge Foundation Healthy Housing and Neighborhoods Initiative. This is an open grant opportunity for organizations working to address: (a) policies, systems change, and communication to connect health and housing; (b) policies that promote healthy housing and mitigate the impacts of substandard housing and/or; (c) innovative investments that connect community development, health, and housing. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

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: October 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: October 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: October 5, 2017 (R01); October 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: October 5, 2017.

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 will 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: October 5, 2017 (R01); October 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: October 5, 2017.

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