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Your Environment. Your Health.

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health

PEPH Newsletter

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Volume 10, Issue 7: July 2019

The Truth Fairy Project: Measuring Children’s Early Exposure to Lead

NIEHS-funded researchers found high levels of lead in the teeth of children living in communities near a lead-battery recycling smelter in southeast Los Angeles. According to the researchers, the results support the need to test mothers for lead before and during pregnancy to capture exposures during critical windows of child development.

“Baby teeth incorporate minerals, including toxic metals, beginning around the second trimester and continuing through early childhood,” explained lead study author Jill Johnston, Ph.D. “Unlike blood lead measurements, which only reflect recent exposures, teeth allow us to reconstruct a child’s exposure to lead while in the womb and during the first year of life.”

East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ), a project partner, named the study the “Truth Fairy” project. “This project was co-created with community organizations to assess exposure and health concerns due to the smelter and generate action-oriented data,” said Johnston. “Partnering with EYCEJ was critical to build trust in the community and apply the results to address the social and health impacts of the smelter.”

During the battery recycling process, lead and other heavy metals are released into the air and settle into soil, potentially exposing nearby residents. The smelter released about 3,500 pounds of lead into the surrounding environment until it closed in March 2015. The children involved in the study lived within two miles of the facility their entire lives, including while they were developing in their mother’s womb.

The research team measured lead in 50 baby teeth from 43 children and found that 100% of the teeth contained lead. They compared these findings with soil lead levels from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and discovered that children living in neighborhoods with higher soil lead levels had more lead in their teeth.

“Higher lead in teeth means higher lead in the brain, kidney, and bones,” said Johnston in a USC news story. “Testing women for lead during pregnancy, or even earlier, as they enter childbearing age, may be needed to decrease lead exposure to their future offspring.”

The researchers and EYCEJ held several meetings to share their results with the community. The first was a “community members only” event to ensure they received their results before external stakeholders. Subsequent meetings involved the media and representatives from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, South Coast Air Quality Management District, and California State Assembly.

The research team and EYCEJ also worked together to create a two-page infographic about the study and what they found. It is available in English and Spanish.

The Truth Fairy project is a collaboration between the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of Southern California, the Mount Sinai Transdisciplinary Center on Early Environmental Exposures at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.

Resources for Developing Effective Community Partnerships

Two resources, created by NIEHS-funded researchers and community partners, provide guidance on developing effective partnerships to address environmental health issues:

  • Building Equitable Partnerships for Environmental Justice: The goal of this curriculum is to strengthen capacity among community leaders in environmental justice movements and academic researchers to develop collaborative, equitable, and effective partnerships to promote mutual learning and address environmental issues in disadvantaged communities. The curriculum was developed by the Michigan Center on Lifestage Environmental Exposures and Disease (M-LEEaD) at the University of Michigan, the Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of California at Davis, and community partners.
  • Guidebook for Developing a Community Air Monitoring Network: This guidebook documents the process and considerations for creating the Imperial County Community Air Monitoring Network, a collaborative partnership that created an air monitoring network to collect community-level data on particulate matter air pollution. The guidebook was developed for community-based organizations that are interested in establishing their own community air monitoring networks and also may be of interest to regulatory agencies, non-governmental organizations, and researchers supporting or partnering with community-led air monitoring efforts. The resource was created by Tracking California, Comité Civico del Valle, and researchers at the University of Washington.

Comment on a New Health Literacy Definition for Healthy People 2030

The Department of Health and Human Services invites comments on a proposed update to the definition of health literacy for Healthy People 2030. The working definition of health literacy for Healthy People 2030 is: “Health literacy occurs when a society provides accurate health information and services that people can easily find, understand, and use to inform their decisions and actions.” Submit your comments by August 5, 2019. Learn more in the Federal Register.

EHP-Curated Collection on Autism Spectrum Disorders

In June, Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) released a new curated collection of articles on autism spectrum disorders, with an introduction written by EHP associate editor Julie Daniels, Ph.D.

EHP’s curated 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.

PEPH Webinar: Nutrition to Counteract the Harmful Effects of Environmental Exposures

Join us for the July PEPH webinar, Nutrition to Counteract the Harmful Effects of Environmental Exposures. The webinar will be held July 26, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. EDT. Stay tuned for more information!

Job Opportunity: Full/Associate Professor in Environmental Health Sciences at UA

The Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health (MEZCOPH) at the University of Arizona (UA) invites applicants for a full/associate level faculty position with tenure in the Environmental Health Sciences program in the Department of Community, Environment, and Policy. MEZCOPH is seeking an exceptional investigator with an international reputation and established expertise in environmental health research, exposure science, and/or environmental epidemiology – particularly including the following areas: environmental justice, health equity, one health, climate-associated disease, arid environments, human toxicology, exposomics, environmental microbiology, and the built environment. This outstanding candidate should have a demonstrated ability, and will be expected, to lead a productive and collaborative funded environmental health research program, demonstrate teaching excellence in undergraduate and graduate courses in environmental health sciences, and advance community impact by providing mentorship and contributing to extramural and intramural service.

Visit the UA job listing for more information on position duties and qualifications (posting number F21906). Applications must be submitted through UACareers, UA’s online application system. Review will begin June 3. For questions or additional information, please contact Dr. Paloma Beamer, Chair of the Faculty Search Committee.

CDC Requests Comments on Guidelines for Cancer Cluster Investigations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is seeking public comment on updating federal guidelines used by public health agencies to assess and respond to potential cancer clusters in communities. Interested people and organizations are invited to participate by submitting written views, information, recommendations, and data. The request for comment is posted in the Federal Register and will be available for public comment through July 15, 2019.

Share a Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Accomplishment

The NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) is soliciting input to develop a list of key public health and health care accomplishments that were made possible, in full or in part, as a result of behavioral and/or social sciences research. OBSSR hopes that this resource will be useful when making the case for the importance of the behavioral and social sciences to health.

To contribute to the resource, you can submit, comment on, or vote for accomplishments that have had a substantial health impact and for which behavioral and social sciences research was instrumental. An expert panel will review the submissions and assist OBSSR in selecting, organizing, and making them available online. Submissions are due July 31, 2019.

New Guide Helps Communities Find Federal Resources

A new guide from the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) helps communities find federal assistance to address environmental, economic, health, and other local needs. The Guide to Finding Federal Assistance and Resources for Environmental Justice Efforts offers general guidance and tips on searching for funding opportunities, as well as information on tools, trainings, and other relevant resources that are available to help address community needs.

Translational Research Diagram
PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

From the Lab to Real-World Impacts: NIEHS Tools for Translational Research

Listen to our latest podcast, From the Lab to Real-World Impacts: NIEHS Tools for Translational Research, to learn about translational research at NIEHS, as well as the institute’s new Translational Research Framework.

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

Listen to more PEPH Podcasts
Paul Laurienti, M.D., Ph.D.
PEPH Grantee Highlight

Paul Laurienti, M.D., Ph.D.

Paul Laurienti, M.D., Ph.D., uses advanced imaging techniques and personal exposure data to explore and understand links between pesticide exposure and brain development. In 2013, he teamed up with Thomas Arcury, Ph.D., who leads Preventing Agricultural Chemical Exposure (PACE), a community-based participatory research project focused on Latino farmworkers who are exposed to pesticides. “It has been fascinating to learn how different it is to conduct research out in the environment where the exposures are happening, rather than just in the laboratory,” said Laurienti. “I’ve learned through this process how crucial it is to build trust with community partners who can help engage our participants and identify trusted interviewers and data collectors.”

Read more about Grantee

Funding Opportunities

Application Due Date Jul 08 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.

Application Due Date Aug 12 2019
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. 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
Letter Requesting Permission (LRP): Required, due 6 weeks prior to the application receipt date.

Application Due Date Aug 30 2019
Undergraduate Research Education Program (UP) to Enhance Diversity in the Environmental Health Sciences (R25 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

The overarching goal of this R25 program is to support educational activities that encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, to pursue further studies or careers in research. This FOA will support creative educational activities with a primary focus on research experiences.

Deadline: August 30, 2019
Letter of Intent: July 30, 2019

Application Due Date Sep 05 2019
SBIR and STTR Omnibus Grant Solicitations (NOT-OD-19-105)

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

Application Due Date Oct 05 2019
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, 2019

Application Due Date Oct 05 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: October 5, 2019

Application Due Date Oct 16 2019
Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health

(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: October 5, 2019 (R01); October 16 (R03 and R21)
Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date.

Application Due Date Oct 28 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

Application Due Date Nov 15 2019
Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Specialized Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research (P50).

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), in partnership with NIEHS, intends to publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit applications from eligible institutions of higher education for specialized research center grants to conduct multidisciplinary research, research capacity building, and community-engaged research activities focused on understanding and reducing or eliminating environmentally driven health disparities. The estimated publication date of the FOA is August 01, 2019.

Deadline: November 15, 2019 (estimated)

Application Due Date Dec 04 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

Application Due Date Ongoing
Community Changemaker Grants for Native Youth

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.

Application Due Date Ongoing
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.

Deadline: See the Funding Opportunity Announcement.

Visit the Funding Opportunity Announcements Page
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