Meetings Engage Legislators, Community to Discuss Chemical Contamination in Michigan
In March, NIEHS-funded researchers at the University of Michigan and Emory University convened two events, one for legislators and one for community members, to identify effective strategies for preventing and responding to large-scale chemical contaminations in Michigan. At each event, researchers discussed policy lessons and potential health effects stemming from widespread polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) contamination that has affected residents across the state for more than four decades.
“The events provided an opportunity to share research findings about how chemical contamination impacts health, the economy, and the community and to share strategies and opportunities to prevent future impacts and minimize the adverse health impacts of those that have already occurred” said Amy Schulz, Ph.D., who leads the Community Engagement Core within the Michigan Center on Lifestage Environmental Exposures and Disease (M-LEEaD) at the University of Michigan.
“Sixty percent of Michiganders tested for PBB in the last few years still have elevated levels in their blood that is higher than 95% of the U.S. population,” said Michele Marcus, Ph.D., who leads the Michigan PBB Registry, a study funded in part by NIEHS to examine the possible long-term health effects of this episode. “Our research has linked PBB exposure in this population to increased risk of thyroid problems and breast cancer. We’ve also found that daughters of women with high exposure to PBB matured earlier and, as adults, were more likely to experience a miscarriage.”
The March 21 session for state legislators, entitled “From PBB to PFAS,” emphasized the long-term consequences and missed opportunities to prevent the widespread PBB contamination. Meeting attendees and presenters drew parallels between the PBB crisis and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in groundwater and drinking water at sites across Michigan. The session provided more than 55 legislators and their staff an opportunity to meet with environmental health researchers and to discuss strategies the state can use to prevent and more effectively respond to future environmental disasters. In addition to brief scientific presentations, the session included a question-and-answer segment and a poster and networking session.
The next evening, nearly 60 community members gathered in St. Louis, Michigan, the location of the chemical plant that manufactured the PBB. Now a Superfund site, efforts are underway to clean up contaminated drinking water, residential yards, and high school athletic fields in the community. Schulz updated community members on the legislative event held the night before, and Marcus discussed health effects of PBB and ongoing health research. Discussion was facilitated by Jane Keon, community resident and Secretary of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force. Community residents shared personal stories, asked questions about the research, and discussed the status of the cleanup.
“Our goal across the two events is to assure that environmental health research is available to inform policy decisions related to widespread chemical contaminations, with a focus on strategies to reduce the number and severity of events and when they do occur to assure that community residents, health care providers, and policy makers have the information they need to minimize adverse impacts on health,” commented Schulz.
The events were sponsored by the University of Michigan Lifestage Environmental Exposures and Disease Center (MLEEaD), Emory University’s Health and Exposome Research Center Understanding Lifetime Exposures (HERCULES), and Central Michigan University’s Department of History. Co-sponsors of the legislative meeting included State senators and representatives. The community meeting was co-sponsored by the Pine River Superfund Citizens Task Force and the PBB Citizen Advisory Board.
Read about an ongoing project funded by NIEHS to learn more about how researchers are addressing concerns expressed by the PBB community.
Luz Claudio Talks Community Engagement on the TED Stage
In a recent TED talk, Luz Claudio, Ph.D., shares why science needs community engagement. Claudio describes her journey from working in a lab as a neuroscientist to a researcher working with communities to address health disparities. In this thought-provoking and humorous talk, she illustrates how using a community-based participatory research approach can help people address environmental health issues in their communities. Claudio, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai, was chosen to participate in the TED Residency program and has held several grants from NIEHS.
Duke SRP Center Outlines Outreach Campaign for Subsistence Fish Consumers
In its blog, the Duke University Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center recently described its effort to increase understanding, inform decision-making, and ultimately change behavior among subsistence fish consumers in North Carolina’s Northeast Cape Fear River. A brochure created for the outreach campaign illustrates harmful contaminants found in fish, like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Through their work, they are emphasizing reducing early-life or developmental exposures for children and pregnant women. In the first blog post, they describe their outreach campaign. A subsequent post describes their involvement in outreach events in Wilmington, North Carolina.
EHP Publishes Curated Collection on Noise Exposures and Health
In May, Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) released a new curated collection of articles on noise exposures and health. A growing body of evidence suggests that chronic noise exposure can have adverse effects on human health beyond hearing damage. The observational and experimental studies presented in this collection explore a variety of health outcomes for which noise may one day be implicated as an important factor. If, after exploring EHP's curated collection, you want to learn more about noise and health, we encourage you to check out the PEPH podcast, A Community Approach to Studying Noise and Health.
And stay tuned for more curated collections from EHP! These collections gather previously published EHP content to help readers stay up to date on important topics and contemporary issues in environmental health. Articles are carefully selected by EHP's editors to include highly cited papers and other notable content, providing background and context behind new discoveries and emerging issues.
NIH’s All of Us Research Program Launches Data Browser
NIH’s All of Us Research Program has announced the beta release of its interactive Data Browser, which provides a first look at the data that participants are sharing for health research. Participants, researchers, and other members of the public may use the online tool to learn more about the All of Us participant community and explore summary data. Currently, participant-provided information, including surveys and physical measurements taken at the time of participant enrollment, as well as electronic health record data are available. The All of Us Research Program data resource will grow to include more data types over time. Read the press release to learn more.
PEPH Webinar: A Day in the Life of a Pediatric Environmental Health Fellow
Join us for the June PEPH webinar, A Day in the Life of a Pediatric Environmental Health Fellow. There is a recognized need to train pediatric and other health care professionals in the assessment and management of children’s health issues that are related to the environment. Different approaches have been used to meet this knowledge gap, most notably the Pediatric Environmental Health Fellowship program that was established in 2002 by the Academic Pediatric Association. In this webinar, we will hear two Pediatric Environmental Health fellows talk about learning a new discipline, managing research, and maintaining clinical practice. They will touch upon the benefits for them personally and professionally. We will also hear from the Fellowship directors about the valuable contributions of these health care professionals to the advancement of pediatric environmental health. The webinar will be held June 27 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EDT. Registration is required.
Listen to our latest podcast, PFAS and Children’s Health, to learn about a complex group of chemicals known as PFAS and how researchers are working to understand how they may impact early childhood development.
PEPH Grantee Highlight
Maida Galvez, M.D.
Maida Galvez, M.D., an associate professor at Mount Sinai, strives to increase awareness of the link between environmental exposures and health. Galvez co-directs the Community Engagement Core for the Mount Sinai Transdisciplinary Center for Early Environmental Exposures, where she collaborates with a team of health care professionals to identify environmental health concerns and connect vulnerable populations to needed interventions. She also works with the Region 2 Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) at Mount Sinai to help clinicians and families take action to protect children’s health. Her work has focused on serving children from high poverty neighborhoods around New York City, such as East Harlem and the Bronx.
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: June 5, 2019
Addressing the Etiology of Health Disparities and Health Advantages Among Immigrant Populations (R01)
Supports innovative research to understand uniquely associated factors (biological, behavioral, sociocultural, and environmental) that contribute to health disparities or health advantages among U.S. immigrant populations.
Deadline: June 5, 2019
(R01 Clinical Trial Optional; R21 Clinical Trial Optional; R03 Clinical Trial Not Allowed). Supports innovative approaches to identifying, understanding, and developing strategies for overcoming barriers to the adoption, adaptation, integration, scale-up, and sustainability of evidence-based interventions, tools, policies, and guidelines. Conversely, there is a benefit in understanding circumstances that create a need to stop or reduce (“de-implement”) the use of interventions that are ineffective, unproven, low-value, or harmful. In addition, studies to advance dissemination and implementation research methods and measures are encouraged.
Deadlines: June 5, 2019 (R01); June 16 (R03 and R21).
Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date.
(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: June 5, 2019 (R01); June 16 (R21).
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has maintained a long-standing relationship in the development and advancement of the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) Program, through ongoing cooperative agreements initiated by ATSDR. The PEHSU serves health professionals, community organizations, governmental officials, federal staff, child-care providers, parents, and others having interest in environmental conditions that influence reproductive and pediatric health.
Deadline: June 26, 2019
Environmental Influences on Aging: Effects of Extreme Weather and Disaster Events on Aging Populations (PAR-19-250)
Supports research to advance our understanding of the impact of extreme weather and disaster events in aging human populations. Together with the companion FOA (PAR- 19-249) that focuses on underlying mechanisms of aging utilizing animal models, these two FOAs will help to explicate the behavioral, biological, and socioecological processes that occur during extreme weather or disaster events that affect aging processes. Through the integration of the population studies and the companion mechanistic studies FOA, the ultimate goal is to improve the health and well-being of older adults via increased knowledge about extreme weather and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
Deadline: July 8, 2019
Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date.
Supports investigator-initiated scientific meetings. NIEHS is interested in supporting meetings that will advance the field of environmental health sciences. A letter requesting permission (LRP) to submit an application is required and must be received six weeks prior to the application receipt date. See NIH Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings for information about the types of conferences and meetings the institute is interested in supporting, as well as LRP guidelines.
Deadline: August 12, 2019 (application).
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has just released the 2019 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Omnibus Grant Solicitations, which permit researcher-initiated topics around health, medicine, and life science to be submitted for funding consideration.
Deadline: September 5, 2019
Leveraging Health Information Technology (Health IT) to Address Minority Health and Health Disparities (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)
Supports research that examines how health information technology adoption impacts minority health and health disparity populations in access to care, quality of care, patient engagement, and health outcomes.
Deadline: October 28, 2019
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, 2019
Funded by the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), these grants assist Native youth in advocating for health in their communities. The grants are small amounts of money ($250) that can help supercharge a youth-led health event. They are open to American Indian and Alaska Native youth ages 14 - 24 years old. The application should be emailed to Wendee Gardner.
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.
Deadline: See the Funding Opportunity Announcement.
During Autism Awareness Month, NIEHS hosted a talk about links between folate and ASD, discussions on social media, a webinar, and more.
Courses funded by NIEHS Worker Training Program help ensure rural and tribal railroad workers protect their own health and safety.
The North Carolina group gains interest and numbers among researchers studying chemical effects on normal development and health.
National Institutes of Health research improves treatment and prevention of asthma.
Linda Birnbaum told senators that chemicals known as PFAS persist in the environment and affect nearly every system in the human body.
NIEHS-sponsored women’s wellness conference offers screenings, resources, education, info for clinical research volunteers, and more.
Upcoming PEPH-related Events
National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program Data Explorer Tutorial. CDC’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program is hosting a Data Explorer Tutorial webinar to help guide you through creating and personalizing your own data visualizations using the Tracking Program’s freely available environmental health data. The free tutorial will take place from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EDT. Please register.
Grand Rounds Webinar on Air Pollution During this webinar, Melanie Marty will discuss emerging evidence of combustion-related air pollution effects on the developing brain from epidemiological and animal toxicology studies and the potential mechanisms of action. The activity will also provide policy options to reduce air pollution exposure in the U.S. Irva Hertz-Picciotto will provide an overview of Project TENDR.
NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival on the NIH Campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Save the date for the Annual NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival! The purpose of the festival is to highlight recently funded behavioral and social sciences research that the NIH supports, bring together behavioral and social scientists within the NIH extramural and intramural communities to network with each other and share scientific ideas, and explore ways to advance behavioral and social sciences research. Stay tuned for more information.
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