Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News July 2018

Volume 9, Issue 7: July 2018

PEPH E-News Header

Sharing Results Can Benefit Low-Income Communities

Reporting personal exposure results back to study participants living in low-income communities can motivate residents to reduce chemical exposures in the home, according to a new study funded in part by NIEHS. The study informs ethical practices in reporting back research results, especially when working with underserved communities.

"Researchers and institutional review boards (IRBs) have been reluctant to report results in low-income communities because of concerns that residents are already stressed and lack resources to reduce exposures. However, low-income communities face greater health burdens, sometimes due to environmental exposures, so residents can benefit when learning study results helps them reduce disparities, either by personal behavior change or community strategies," said Julia Brody, Ph.D., executive director of the Silent Spring Institute and a lead author on the paper. "We wanted to better understand participants' experiences of learning about their exposures and identify best practices for reporting results back to them."

The study team worked with parents of children enrolled in the Green Housing Study (GHS). The GHS investigated how "green" renovations in low-income housing – such as using low-volatile organic compound (VOC) materials, tightening leaks, and replacing appliances to increase energy efficiency – affects indoor air quality and children's asthma symptoms. GHS researchers analyzed house dust and air samples for over 100 environmental chemicals.

After participants received their exposure results, Brody and colleagues interviewed a small group of GHS mothers to understand their report-back experience. Overall, the mothers appreciated receiving their results and used the information to reduce chemical exposures in the home – for example, by switching to fragrance-free products or using sticky traps instead of chemical sprays to control pests. Interviews also revealed that reporting back results increased the mothers' environmental health literacy and helped build trust between researchers and participants.

Concept sketch of BigBarChart
A concept sketch of the BigBarChart data physicalization. Each bar is made from a modified laundry hamper and can change its height and color to represent different chemical exposure levels as the participants explore the dataset.

The researchers used a mix of report-back methods to help mothers understand study results, including providing them with personalized summary reports and hosting open community meetings. These meetings also provided the study team an opportunity to help parents better understand exposure data by using a novel data visualization technique called "data physicalization." Data physicalization uses physical objects, rather than two-dimensional displays, such as graphs on paper or screens. For example, BigBarChart, created by researcher Laura Perovich at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, is a life-sized, 3-D bar chart that participants can interact with to explore the community's chemical exposure data.

"Our results suggest that report-back can enhance public health benefits for participants living in low-income communities," said Brody. "IRB policies should encourage researchers to carefully plan a report-back process so that study results are understandable and actionable."

The result report-back study was funded by NIEHS grant R01ES017514. The Green Housing Study is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Center for Healthy Housing.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast

In our latest podcast, Harmful Algal Blooms and Your Health, hear more about the adverse impacts of toxins from harmful algal blooms on human health, ecosystems, and the economy. In addition, learn how scientists are exploring the use of toxins and other chemicals released by these algae to treat certain diseases.

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 Grantee Highlight: Kerry Margaret Butch

Kerry Margaret Butch works with communities across New Jersey to ensure residents are aware of environmental health risks that might be present in their neighborhoods. As Community Engagement Coordinator for the Rutgers Center for Environmental Exposure and Disease (CEED), Butch helped establish a partnership between CEED researchers and community groups to document and publicize the harmful effects of diesel truck emissions in the area around the Newark-Elizabeth Port. Through this partnership, CEED is helping to monitor air emissions, truck traffic, and other activities that may impact the health of community members. Based on CEED research results, the City of Elizabeth has banned truck traffic on some routes. One way Butch and her colleagues are communicating their results is through videos. "This video project documents one of our successes in communicating potential environmental health risks to decision makers," said Butch. Read the grantee highlight to learn more.

PEPH in the June NIEHS Environmental Factor

National Trainers Exchange draws health, safety professionals together. Trainers from across the country presented 99 sessions with small versions of their training programs.

New website makes it easy to join clinical studies. The new "Join an NIEHS Study" website helps recruit volunteers for NIEHS clinical studies in North Carolina and Maryland.

NIEHS brings environmental focus to One Health meeting. Participants at the international One Medicine One Science meeting explored interdisciplinary collaborations and global health solutions. In March 2018, PEPH hosted a One Health webinar. Visit the PEPH webpage to learn more about the concept of One Health, including how researchers are incorporating it into environmental health disparities research.

STEMposium highlights outcomes of teacher immersion. NIEHS hosted a Wake County SummerSTEM showcase of year-long projects in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

New STEM App from NIH Lets Students Explore a Career in Health Research

The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has just released an app that allows students to experience the excitement of advancing science and health and exploring a research career. The NIH Scientist Launch GameTM app was created for students age 10 and up and leads players through the challenges and excitement of learning about science, getting a grant, and overcoming challenges researchers often face. Along the way, players learn about various diseases, experimental design, and the life of a successful scientist.

The game was developed over the last two years with input from hundreds of children and many scientists and science writers from CSR; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and the National Cancer Institute. A STEM educator affiliated with the Science Education Partnership Award Program also contributed to the game.

Parents, students, and teachers are encouraged to download the free app, which is available in both iOS and Android formats.

New Health and Climate Solutions Hub to Launch at George Mason University

The Center for Climate Change Communication (4C) at George Mason University was recently awarded a two-year, $1.2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to establish a new Health and Climate Solutions Hub. The Hub will extend the important climate and health work already being done at 4C, which conducts communication research and serves as the home for the Medical Society Consortium for Climate and Health, and will contribute to RWJF's commitment to building a Culture of Health.

The project is being led by Mark Mitchell, M.D., a leading expert in environmental health and health equity, and 4C Director Edward Maibach, Ph.D. The project team hopes to issue a Call for Proposals in late 2018 and award grants in 2019.

Rural Health Information Hub Offers Free Resources and Assistance

The Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub), formerly the Rural Assistance Center, provides resources, information, and opportunities to support health care and population health in rural communities. RHIhub offers an online library of rural health resources, coverage of rural issues, state guides, toolkits, rural program models, and more. The website's data visualization section provides access to a range of tools to explore issues that impact rural health, and the funding section summarizes the latest and ongoing funding opportunities for rural communities. RHIhub is funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.

Nominations for the 2018 NOW Youth Leadership Award Now Open

The Children's Environmental Health Network (CEHN) is now accepting nominations for the 2018 Nsedu Obot Witherspoon (NOW) Youth Leadership Award. The award honors a young person (age 12-21 at the time of nomination) who has demonstrated exceptional environmental health leadership to protect human health, especially of our most vulnerable populations. CEHN encourages submissions of nominees who are involved in and committed to environmental health, participate in community action, and have strong leadership skills. Nominate a young leader by July 31, 2018 at noon.

Submit a Proposal for the 2019 Citizen Science Symposium

Researchers, practitioners, educators, community members, and members of the broader citizen science community are invited to submit proposals for the Citizen Science Association (CSA) Conference (CitSci2019) to be held March 13 – 17, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. CSA is currently accepting symposia and workshop proposals, as well as proposals for individual oral and poster presentations. This year's meeting will have a focus on the intersection of environmental justice and citizen science. Symposia and workshop proposals are due August 3, 2018. Individual presentation proposals are due August 15, 2018.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

July 11, 2018: Moving Forward Together - A Public Session of the Environmental Health Matters Initiative in Washington, D.C. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Environmental Health Matters Initiative is holding a public meeting to explore some of the ways EHMI can work with a range of stakeholders from various sectors – government, industry, research, foundations, NGOs, and others – to improve environmental health. The meeting also will be webcast.

August 26 – 30, 2018: 2018 ISES-ISEE Joint Annual Meeting in Ottawa, Canada. The meeting theme is: "Addressing Complex Local and Global Issues in Environmental Exposure and Health."

September 13 – 14, 2018: Children's Environmental Health Symposium in Dallas, Texas. Sessions are planned for health care providers, academics, community health workers, policy makers, social workers, and community leaders. The meeting is sponsored by the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and the West Texas Regional Poison Center. For more information, contact

November 8 – 9, 2018: Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program Annual Meeting, in Washington, D.C. The meeting will engage researchers, advocates, and community members in discussions on environmental exposures and breast cancer. It is open to the public at no cost. Abstracts for oral presentations are due August 1. Abstracts for poster presentations are due August 31.

November 10 – 14, 2018: American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting & Expo in San Diego, California. This year's theme is: "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now."

December 13 – 14, 2018: Save the date for the Partnerships for Environmental Public Health Annual Meeting! The meeting will be held at NIEHS in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Stay tuned for more information.

Funding Opportunities

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

NIH Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings (Parent R13). Supports investigator-initiated scientific meetings. NIEHS is interested in supporting meetings that will advance the field of environmental health sciences. Deadlines: July 1, 2018 (letter requesting permission (LRP) to submit application); August 12, 2018 (application). See the NIEHS Conference Grant webpage for information about the types of conferences and meetings the Institute is interested in supporting, as well as LRP guidelines.

Interactive Digital Media STEM Resources for Pre-College and Informal Science Education Audiences (STTR) (R41/R42 Clinical Trial Not Allowed). Provides opportunities for eligible small business concerns to submit NIH Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant applications to develop interactive digital media science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resources that address student career choice and health and medicine topics for: (1) pre-kindergarten to grade 12 students and pre- and in-service teachers or (2) informal science education (i.e., outside the classroom). Deadline: September 5, 2018.

Interactive Digital Media STEM Resources for Pre-College and Informal Science Education Audiences (SBIR) (R43/R44 Clinical Trial Not Allowed). Provides opportunities for eligible small business concerns to submit NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant applications to develop interactive digital media science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resources that address student career choice and health and medicine topics for: (1) pre-kindergarten to grade 12 students and pre- and in-service teachers or (2) informal science education (i.e., outside the classroom). Deadline: September 5, 2018.

Addressing Health Disparities through Effective Interventions among Immigrant Populations (R01 Clinical Trial Optional). Supports innovative research to develop and implement effective interventions to address health disparities among U.S. immigrant populations. Deadline: October 5, 2018.

Research to Action: Assessing and Addressing Community Exposures to Environmental Contaminants (R01 Clinical Trial Optional). 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, 2018. Check out the Research to Action Currently Funded Grantees webpage for a sense of the types of projects supported through this FOA.

Environmental Exposures and Health: Exploration of Non-Traditional Settings (R01 and R21 Clinical Trial Optional). 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, 2018 (R01); October 16, 2018 (R21).

Collaborative Minority Health and Health Disparities Research with Tribal Epidemiology Centers (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed). Supports collaborative research between Tribal Epidemiology Centers and extramural investigators on topics related to minority health and health disparities in American Indian / Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. Deadline: December 4, 2018.

Are you enjoying the PEPH Newsletter? If so, please forward this email to your friends and colleagues and suggest they sign up!

Do you have an announcement to share with the PEPH community? Send us your news for the next issue of the PEPH Newsletter (

To subscribe to our mailing list, remove your name from our mailing list, or submit a question/comment, please email

Make sure to follow us on Twitter!

to Top