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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News October 2018

Volume 9, Issue 10: October 2018

PEPH E-News Header

Portable Sensor Improves Methods for Detecting Children's Metal Exposures

A team of NIEHS-funded researchers is developing a portable sensor that may provide a faster, cheaper, and more child-friendly method to detect heavy metal exposures. The research team is now gearing up to test the sensor in children living in Chicago communities where manganese exposure is a concern.

"Being able to quickly detect metals like lead and manganese would mean that efforts to remove the metals from the environment can begin faster and treatment of the individual can also start faster," said lead investigator Ian Papautsky, Ph.D., in a press release. Now at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Papautsky began developing the device in 2010 at the University of Cincinnati (UC) with Erin Haynes, Dr.P.H., who directs the Community Engagement Core in the UC Center for Environmental Genetics.

According to Haynes, motivation to develop the sensor grew out of a community-based study examining manganese exposure in children living in Marietta, Ohio, which is home to a metal refinery. Exposure to manganese, lead, and other heavy metals has been shown to negatively affect brain development, behavior, cognitive performance, and other neurological outcomes. Children, whose brains and other organ systems are still developing, are especially vulnerable to metal exposures.

With a new award from NIEHS, the research team will validate the sensor by comparing blood test results from 150 children living in Southeast Side, Chicago neighborhoods, where exposure to manganese in dust is high. They will analyze samples using both the new sensor and traditional methods. A major goal of this study is to report back blood metal results to study participants.

The portable sensor, which needs just a single drop of blood, will make measuring metal exposures more child-friendly. Current methods require researchers to collect about seven milliliters (about 1.5 teaspoons) of blood to assess exposures. "[Drawing] a tube of blood from a child is not practical," said Papautsky, "Getting a single drop of blood from a child is a lot easier."

Other improvements over existing methods include being more cost-effective and having a faster turnaround time for results. According to Haynes, traditional methods left families enrolled in the Marietta study waiting several months for blood test results. "It could take three to six months, and that was not satisfactory to the participants; they wanted their data," she said in a news article. In a clinical setting, the sensor can deliver results in just a few minutes.

"By providing researchers, families, and public health professionals immediate feedback about blood metal levels, the new sensor could help us more quickly implement interventions that would reduce exposures and improve public health," said Haynes.

Raising Children's Health Awareness in October

Children's Health Month is a month-long campaign in October offering an opportunity to raise awareness of children's health issues. Additionally, October 11, 2018 is Children's Environmental Health Day, which focuses on the connection between the environment and child health and provides an opportunity to share children's environmental health resources. One way to get involved on Children's Environmental Health Day is to participate in a Twitter chat focused on Youth Engagement that will take place October 11, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EDT; you can follow the Chat using the hashtag #CEHchat. You also can use the hashtags #CEHday and #ChildrenAtTheCenter to share resources throughout the month:

New NIEHS Webpages Highlight Time-Sensitive Research Grants Program

Check out NIEHS's new webpages highlighting the Time-Sensitive Research Grants Program. The program supports research related to unpredictable events with a limited window of opportunity to collect human biological samples or environmental exposure data. The initial motivation of the program is to understand the human health consequences of natural and human-caused disasters and other emerging environmental public health threats. The new webpages provide specific examples of NIEHS-funded projects, such as the recent wildfires; the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; and the Flint, Michigan water crisis. Learn more about this funding opportunity today.

Provide Your Feedback on the PEPH Newsletter!

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PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast

In our latest podcast, E-Cigarettes and Teen Health, we explore why the increased use of e-cigarettes, particularly among teens, has generated concern among health professionals and scientists and how NIEHS-funded researchers are working to understand and address this growing problem.

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: (1) Social Media and Public Health Communication and (2) E-Waste and Environmental Health

October 12, 2018 • noon to 1:00 p.m. EDT. The Social Media and Public Health Communication webinar will focus on the value of social media for community outreach and translation of children's environmental health content. Presenters will discuss best practices for using social media to engage with target audiences and share public health messages. Registration is required.

November 9, 2018 • noon – 1:00 p.m. EDT. The E-Waste and Environmental Health webinar will highlight NIEHS-funded work at two electronic waste (e-waste) sites, one in China and another in Ghana. Presenters will discuss working with communities as part of the research process. Registration is required.

PEPH Grantee Highlight: Jonathan London, Ph.D.

Jonathan London, Ph.D., is an educator, researcher, and community builder focused on addressing environmental concerns in rural communities in California. London co-directs the Community Engagement Core in the Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of California, Davis, where he works with a diverse set of community partners to address air pollution issues. He also works to improve access to clean drinking water for low-income communities in the San Joaquin Valley and helped garner support for the passage of the California Clean Water and Safe Parks Act in June 2018. "My goal is to maximize university resources as tools for social justice and to help underserved communities get access to information to empower themselves," he said. Read the PEPH grantee highlight to learn more.

PEPH in the September NIEHS Environmental Factor

EPA E-STEM Resources Available

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed several electronic resources for science, technology, engineering, and math (E-STEM) that can be used in a variety of formal and informal educational settings. The E-STEM resources include:

  • Build Your Own Particle Sensor, a hands-on learning activity that teaches the basics of particulate matter air pollution, air quality, and electronics while building problem-solving and other STEM skills.
  • EnviroAtlas, an ecosystem services mapping tool developed by the EPA and its partners to empower users to be highly informed local decision makers.
  • Village Green, an innovative solar- and wind-powered air monitoring system developed by EPA researchers that allows users to use real-time data to learn about local air quality.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

October 2, 2018: Children's Environmental Health Symposium in Sacramento, California. The symposium theme is: Air Pollution and Lifecourse Neurological Impacts. Sponsored by the CIRCLE Children's Environmental Health Research Center, Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, and the California EPA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the symposium is free to attend and will also be webcast. Please register.

October 10, 2018: Chemicals, Pollution, and Pregnancy: A Reproductive Environmental Health Conference in Chicago, Illinois. The purpose of this conference is to educate health care providers about research developments and clinical advancements for toxicant exposures as they relate to reproductive environmental health. Sponsored by the Great Lakes Center for Children's Environmental Health, the Region 5 Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, the meeting is free to attend, and three continuing medical education (CME) credits will be offered. Registration closes October 4, 2018.

October 12, 2018: Kids Matter! Research to Action in Children's Environmental Health in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The symposium will bring together scientists, clinicians, public health professionals, and community advocates interested in emerging research in the field of children's environmental health. Attendance is limited to the first 100 registrants. Please register by October 1, 2018.

October 22 – 23, 2018: NIEHS/EPA 2018 Children's Environmental Health Centers Annual Meeting & Social Media Workshop in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Center investigators will come together to discuss approaches to raise the visibility of their research findings. Registration closes October 10, 2018.

October 26, 2018: Public Health and Our Ports: The Road to Clean Air in Newark, New Jersey. Hosted by the Center for Environmental Exposure and Disease (CEED) at Rutgers University, this conference will engage a broad range of stakeholders to discuss environmental health issues related to the New Jersey ports, with a focus on public health impacts of port activities on port-adjacent communities.

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.

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 3 – 5, 2018: Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health in Washington, D.C. Co-hosted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and AcademyHealth, this year's event will focus on strategies for scaling up effective interventions across communities, health systems, networks, and countries, as well as efforts to build capacity for dissemination and implementation science, with an emphasis on low-resource settings.

December 13 – 14, 2018: Partnerships for Environmental Public Health Annual Meeting in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. This year's meeting will focus on reporting research results back to study participants. Stay tuned for more information.

March 13 – 17, 2019 CitSci2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Sponsored by the Citizen Science Association, the 2019 meeting focuses on broadening the citizen science community.

Funding Opportunties

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

Mechanism for Time-Sensitive Research Opportunities in Environmental Health Sciences (R21). Supports environmental health research in which an unpredictable event provides a limited window of opportunity to collect human biological samples or environmental exposure data. The program aims to understand the consequences of natural and human-caused disasters or emerging environmental public health threats in the U.S. and abroad. See the Funding Opportunity Announcement for application due dates.

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.

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. Deadline: December 12, 2018 (application). A letter requesting permission (LRP) to submit an application is required and must be received six weeks prior to application receipt date. 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.

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