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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News September 2017

Volume 8, Issue 9: September 2017

PEPH E-News Header

High School Students Get Hands-on Environmental Health Experience

For one week in July, a group of 25 Philadelphia high school students enjoyed an interactive, hands-on educational experience in environmental health with a personal focus. Hosted by the NIEHS-funded Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET) Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) at the University of Pennsylvania (U Penn), the program combined classroom instruction with laboratory and field work to engage and inspire the students to consider how the environment can impact their health daily.

"Students are frequently unaware of environmental health challenges that they experience every day. We hope to empower them by increasing their awareness and providing them with tools to use to improve their environmental health," said Marilyn Howarth, M.D., director of the CEET COEC.

Each day had a different theme: air quality, environmental justice, water quality, and lead. On the fifth day, the students reflected on the week's overarching question: "What would surprise your friends about environmental health?"

On day one, the students learned how air quality can affect human health. They then walked around U Penn's campus, measuring particulate matter levels with an air monitor, and graphed their results.

The next day, the interns attended a meeting of the Chester Environmental Partnership (CEP), a community organization focused on improving environmental health problems in the environmental justice community of Chester, Pennsylvania. According to Howarth, it was a valuable experience for the students to witness community members civically engaging in environmental health problems that impact them personally. After the meeting, the interns toured Chester to gain a broader understanding of the city's history, culture, and environmental problems.

On day three, the interns traveled to the Riverbend Environmental Education Center in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania to learn about water quality and health. They collected water samples from a stream and looked for the presence and abundance of specific types of aquatic life, which can be an indicator of a stream's health. During this field work, the interns learned about the impact of pharmaceutical, biological, and chemical pollution on natural water sources, as well as the difficulty of treating toxic pollutants to ensure water is safe to drink.

To prepare for the final lesson on lead, interns brought in soil samples from their homes. After learning about environmental sources of lead, they measured lead levels in their soil samples using an X-ray fluorescence machine. Students whose samples came back with a lead concentration above the U.S Environmental Protection Agency's lead soil standard were offered follow-up contact information for their family.

At the close of the program, the students reflected upon what they had learned that would surprise their family and friends about environmental health. They wrote poems and created a short video to share their thoughts. They also came up with recommendations to help their family and friends create a healthy environment and lifestyle.

"We helped students understand how environmental health science was relevant in their daily lives and made it approachable for them," noted Howarth. "One student's comment said it best: ‘I never knew you could test air and soil so easily and know if it's safe.'"

The program was part of an eight-week public health internship sponsored by U Penn's Netter Center for Community Partnerships and Center for Public Health Initiatives. To read more about what the students learned, check out the CEET COEC blog.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

Environmental Health Chat

In our newest podcast, hear how researchers are studying windows of susceptibility throughout the lifespan and learn how to prevent potentially harmful exposures to environmental stressors.

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 Webinars

Mark your calendars for three upcoming PEPH webinars:

PEPH Grantee Highlight: Keith Pezzoli

Keith Pezzoli, Ph.D., helps communities recognize the connection between health, urban neighborhoods, and the surrounding rural areas that produce important resources, like food. For example, Pezzoli and collaborators are transforming a 20,000-square foot vacant lot into the Ocean View Growing Grounds (OVGG), which includes a community garden, food forest, and neighborhood-based environmental research and learning center. "OVGG is a shining example of creating a place where residents and non-profits can work with the [University of California, San Diego] on food, water, energy, and soil security to create healthy places and healthy people," he said. Read the PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more.

PEPH in the August NIEHS Environmental Factor

Mental health risk and resiliency training for disaster responders. Adam Gonzalez studies first responders, the trauma and mental health effects of their work, and how training may improve resilience.

Remembering children's health champion Herbert Needleman. Herbert Needleman, M.D., who spent his entire career studying the effects of lead in children, died in Pittsburgh at age 89.

Science teachers find inspiration at NIEHS hands-on workshop. Ten teachers enjoyed a hands-on experience in biomedical research during the NIEHS Science, Teachers, and Research Summer Experience.

Zika Action Day Toolkit - Event Guidance: A Guide for Public Health Professionals and Community-Based Organizations

This U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) toolkit is designed to help guide health departments and other organizations, including community-based organizations, hold a Zika community engagement event. Community engagement to reduce mosquito populations and protect against mosquito bites can help efforts to slow the spread of Zika virus infections and other diseases spread by mosquitoes. This toolkit helps organizations hold successful events to inform and educate communities about Zika prevention behaviors, provide trustworthy and accurate information about Zika virus, and offer the necessary tools and resources to take action.

EPA's Smoke Sense Study, a Citizen Science Project Using a Mobile App

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) researchers recently announced a citizen science study called Smoke Sense to (1) help determine the extent to which exposure to wildland fire smoke affects health and productivity and (2) develop health risk communication strategies that protect public health during smoky days. The study will be the first of its kind known to use a mobile application to evaluate health effects from wildland fires in study participants and to test whether such an app communicates health risks effectively. Individuals who want to participate in the study can download the Smoke Sense app in the Google Play store. The app can be used on Android phones and will be available for use on Apple devices in the future.

New EPA Tool Helps Communities Access Billions in Water Infrastructure Financing

EPA launched the Water Finance Clearinghouse, a Web‐based portal to help communities make informed financing decisions for their drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure needs. The Clearinghouse provides communities with a searchable database of more than $10 billion in water funding sources and over 550 resources to support local water infrastructure projects. It consolidates and expands upon existing EPA-supported databases to create a one-stop-shop for all community water finance needs.

Updates to EPA's EJSCREEN Provide Access to Important New Data

EPA recently launched its annual update of EJSCREEN, the Agency's nationally acclaimed environmental justice screening and mapping tool. The updated version uses the most up-to-date demographic and environmental data. The highlights of this year's updates include:

  • A revised water data layer that improves the user's ability to screen for potential surface water pollution
  • The ability to look at municipalities as distinct geographic areas, in addition to states, counties, and census boundaries
  • New map layers including schools, public housing, and prisons

Stakeholder webinars with EPA EJSCREEN experts on how to use the newly updated tool are scheduled for:

  • September 7 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EDT. Register.
  • September 14 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. EDT (focused on the revised water indicator). Register.

NIH T32 Postdoc Fellowship with Silent Spring Institute and Northeastern University

Silent Spring Institute and Northeastern University are seeking a candidate with doctoral training in endocrinology, developmental biology, or cancer biology with a focus on environmental health. Applicants should demonstrate an excellent academic and research record and an interest in understanding the roles of chemicals in carcinogenesis and hormonally-mediated toxicity. Experience with breast cancer biology, computational toxicology, systematic review, or statistics are assets. The candidate should have an interest in public health, community-based participatory research, and the social context of environmental health.

This two-year appointment is part of the NIEHS-funded Transdisciplinary Training at the Intersection of Environmental Health Science and Social Science, a program co-directed by Silent Spring Institute and Northeastern University's Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI). The candidate will spend 2/3 of her/his time at Silent Spring Institute and 1/3 at Northeastern University. See the job posting for more information and to apply.

Call for Papers: Symposium on Housing and Health

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Policy Development and Research invites paper submissions on topics related to the link between housing and health. A range of topics at varying units of analysis will be considered, including, but not limited to: national epidemiological studies, local intervention studies, environmental studies, and the impact and implications of policy. The papers will be published in Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research. Cityscape is published three times a year by the HUD Office of Policy Development and Research with the goal of bringing high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners.

Abstracts are due September 30, 2017; full manuscripts will be due December 15, 2017. See the Cityscape "Call for Papers" webpage for more information.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

September 11, 2017: Tribal Perspectives on Data Sharing (webinar). The webinar is part of the National Cancer Institute's Ethical and Regulatory Issues in Cancer Research (ENRICH) Forum. The webinar will take place from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. EDT; please register.

September 15, 2017: Global Environmental Health Day 2017 at NIEHS's main campus in Durham, North Carolina. NIEHS invites you to its second annual Global Environmental Health Day, which will focus on global community empowerment through community-engaged research. Please register early as seating is limited.

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: Engaging Diverse Partners: Strategies to Address Environmental Public Health at NIEHS's main campus in Durham, North Carolina. A joint meeting of the NIEHS Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) Network and Disaster Research Response (DR2) Program, this workshop will highlight the successful approaches of engaging diverse partners and consider effective partnerships in the aftermath of disasters. Seating is limited, so register today.

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 13 - 14, 2017: 4th International Moving Forward Network Conference in Carson, California. This free educational conference will provide data, insights, and shared practices to create effective policies and strategies for communities impacted by goods movement expansion activities, such as ports, rail yards, and trucking routes.

October 15 - 19, 2017: International Society of Exposure Science (ISES) Annual Meeting in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. This year's meeting theme is "Integrating Exposure Science Across Diverse Communities." The meeting includes several PEPH-related sessions, including pre-conference courses on using handheld air monitoring sensors and science communication. There is a special reduced registration fee for community partners! Meeting organizers wish to encourage greater community participation and engagement at the annual event.

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."

October 30 - 31, 2017: Research Triangle Environmental Health Collaborative's 10th Annual Summit in Durham, North Carolina. This year's theme is "When Facts Are Not Enough: Getting from Good Science to Good Decisions in a New Age of Environmental Health Science."

November 4 - 8, 2017: APHA Annual Meeting & Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. This year's theme is "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health." NIEHS Grantees and Partners: Let us know if you have a session or poster at the meeting by emailing

Funding Opportunities

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

2017 HHS SBIR and STTR Omnibus Grant Solicitations (R41/R42, R43/R44). Invites eligible U.S. small business concerns to submit Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant applications. Deadline: September 5, 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: 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.

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. Check out the Research to Action Currently Funded Grantees webpage with project descriptions, which will provide you with a sense of the types of projects supported through this FOA.

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).

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.

NIH Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings (Parent R13). To support investigator-initiated scientific meetings that will advance the field of environmental health sciences. Deadlines: December 12, 2017 (application); a letter requesting permission (LRP) to submit a conference application is required and must be received via email no later than six weeks prior to the application due date. See the NIEHS Conference Grant webpage for more information about the types of conferences and meetings the Institute is interested in supporting, as well as LRP guidelines.

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.

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