Community-Based Study Tests Air Quality Near Natural Gas Extraction Sites
NIEHS-funded researcher Erin Haynes, Dr.P.H., partnered with Ohio community members to address their concerns about air quality near natural gas extraction (NGE) sites in the eastern part of the state. Study results provide researchers and county officials with baseline air quality data at proposed sites for NGE, which is also referred to as hydraulic fracturing or fracking. By obtaining baseline data, researchers can examine changes in air quality over time as NGE activity increases in the state.
“Natural gas extraction has been rapidly expanding in eastern Ohio since 2011, and the public is concerned about how chemicals used in the process may contaminate the environment and affect their health,” explained Haynes. “When Guernsey County Commissioners and residents approached me with their concerns about the potential impacts of NGE, I saw this as an opportunity to work with them on a community-based participatory research project to collect baseline air quality data near current and proposed NGE sites.”
The team collected air quality data for 63 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at 10 sites across Belmont, Guernsey, Muskingum, and Noble Counties over a six-week period. Seven of the 10 sites did not have current NGE activity within 300 meters. According to Haynes, the community was critical in identifying sampling sites, obtaining participation of landowners, and conducting air monitoring.
The research team found low levels of VOCs at all 10 sites. They also detected 19 unique VOCs, with one compound, trichloroethene, above the recommended exposure level.
“The County Commissioners, Emergency Management Team, and community residents were very insightful in their desire to collect baseline air quality measurements at sites proposed for NGE,” explained Haynes. “These data now allow researchers and county officials to assess changes in air quality over time as NGE expands in the region and may aid in their decision-making process for siting future NGE locations and how to respond if spills occur.”
They reported study results back to local county officials during an open public meeting and community meetings. They also sent individual report-back letters to landowners who participated in the study.
“The most rewarding aspect of our study was developing a trusting relationship with the landowners and informing our local elected leaders about our process and the study’s importance,” said Rusty Roberts, a retired health educator, former Guernsey County Commissioner, and member of the community-academic research team.
“This project further strengthens my commitment to working alongside community members to address their environmental health concerns,” said Haynes. “Engaging residents in data collection makes the data more meaningful, and we hope that this lays the foundation for future follow-up studies.”
The study was supported by the University of Cincinnati (UC) Center for Environmental Genetics (CEG). Haynes, now a professor and chair of epidemiology at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, conducted the study while she was a UC faculty member and director of the CEG’s Community Outreach and Engagement Core.
OSU SRP Connects Tribal Youth to Science on Campus
The Oregon State University (OSU) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center hosted high school students from tribal nations for its third annual Tribal Youth Campus Tour. During the two-day learning exchange, tribal youth from the Columbia River region learned about SRP research, environmental health, and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math. "I didn’t know there was such a connection between our tribes and the research here," said Starr Redcrane, a visiting student.
New Book Examines Collaboration to Address Environmental Issues
A new book, “Bridging Silos: Collaborating for Environmental Health and Justice in Urban Communities,” examines ways that community groups, government agencies, academic institutions, and private institutions each play a role in addressing environmental health issues and how they can collaborate to address environmental health disparities. The book presents in-depth studies of three efforts to address long-standing environmental health issues: childhood lead poisoning in Rochester, New York; unhealthy built environments in Duluth, Minnesota; and pollution related to commercial ports and international trade in Southern California. “Bridging Silos” was written by Katrina Smith Korfmacher, Ph.D., who directs the Community Engagement Core at the University of Rochester Environmental Health Sciences Center. The book is part of the MIT Press Open Access initiative and will be free to download starting in September; hard copies are available for purchase.
EHP Releases New Collection on Extreme Weather
Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) recently released a new curated collection of articles on exposures and outcomes related to extreme weather, with an introduction by EHP associate editor G. Brooke Anderson, Ph.D. 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 to provide background and context behind new discoveries, emerging issues, and research needs.
Job Opportunity: Postdoctoral Research Associate: PFAS Research – Northeastern University
Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI) is searching for a postdoctoral research associate to work in the PFAS Project Lab. This is a two-year position based in Boston, Massachusetts. The successful applicant’s primary responsibility will be on a 5-year NIEHS-funded research project, “Assessment of Pediatric Immunotoxicity, Public Education, and Capacity-Building in Communities Impacted by PFAS-Contaminated Drinking Water.” SSEHRI seeks a social scientist, Ph.D. in hand, with training and research experience in environmental health, community engagement, and the political economy of pollution. Qualitative research experience is necessary. Quantitative analysis, social network analysis, and/or GIS skills are preferred. See the job posting for more information and to apply.
Hurricane Season Reminders for Research Response Teams
As we approach peak hurricane season, it is important to remember that preparedness before deploying a research response is critical. Below are a few resources and reminders to help researchers launch a safe and successful post-disaster research response:
- The NIH Disaster Research Response Program (DR2), the national framework for research on the medical and public health aspects of disasters and public health emergencies, offers tools and resources to expedite pre- and post-disaster research. For example, DR2 research protocols help streamline agreements with Institutional Review Boards, facilitate pre-response documentation for responders, and provide tools for data collection.
- Additional NIEHS resources for storm research include a Researcher Deployment Guide and Worker Training Program Tools for Hurricanes and Floods. The tools are also available in a Disaster Preparedness App created by the National Clearinghouse in collaboration with CPWR — The Center for Construction Research and Training.
- If you live in a hurricane prone area, review your organization’s and personal preparedness plans, connect with local emergency management, and touch base with your community partners. If you live outside hurricane areas, touch base with your partners in hurricane prone areas and discuss possible research efforts and known needs.
Job Opportunity: Environmental Engineering Faculty Position at Duke University
Duke University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position in environmental engineering at the level of full or associate professor. Exceptional applicants to be recruited at the assistant professor level will also be considered. Applicants should have a doctoral degree in engineering or a related field, such as environmental science, chemistry, biology, environmental health, or environmental data science. See the job posting for more information and to apply.
In our latest podcast, Understanding the Global Burden of Disease Part Two, learn how the Pollution and Health Initiative aims to expand the number of environmental factors included in the Global Burden of Disease study and how human health impacts are measured. Listen to part one of this two-part series to learn more about the Global Burden of Disease study.
PEPH Grantee Highlight
Erin Haynes, Dr.P.H.
Erin Haynes, Dr.P.H., joined the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Public Health in December 2018 as professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology. She joined UK to address the environmental health concerns of Appalachians. Read more about Haynes' previous work and her commitment to environmental public health in her 2014 PEPH grantee highlight.
The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) invites proposals for collaborative team-based synthesis research around emerging socio-environmental topics. SESYNC encourages proposals that synthesize data, develop and apply models, and couple quantitative and qualitative data in new ways. Focal themes for the fall 2019 request include any pressing socio-environmental problem(s), social and environmental dimensions of the food-water-energy nexus, global change and health, freshwater and ecosystems in a changing world, and socio-environmental implications of large-scale infrastructure projects.
Deadline: September 16, 2019
Supports innovative research to develop and implement effective interventions to address health disparities among U.S. immigrant populations.
Deadline: October 5, 2019
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
(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.
Deadline: Oct. 5, 2019 (R01); Oct. 16 (R03 and R21)
Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date.
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
Supports research to advance our understanding of the impact of extreme weather and disaster events in aging human populations. With the companion FOA (PAR-19-249), which 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 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: November 4, 2019
Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date.
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
Supports investigator-initiated scientific meetings. NIEHS is interested in supporting meetings that will advance the field of environmental health sciences.
Deadline: December 12, 2019
A letter requesting permission (LRP) to apply is required and must be received six weeks prior to the 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.
APPLETREE is a cooperative agreement program that provides state health departments with resources and guidance to assess and respond to site-specific issues involving exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. Funded states also will use program awards to develop plans and take action to protect children from environmental hazards through the safe siting of early care and education facilities.
Deadline: December 15, 2019
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 for application due dates.
The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), in partnership with NIEHS, intends to publish an 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 FOA is expected to be published in summer 2019 with an expected application due date in fall 2019.
Deadline: Fall 2019
After more than 40 years as a federal scientist, the institute's director plans to wrap up experiments and maintain advisory roles in the U.S. and abroad.
During NIEHS Director Birnbaum’s last community forum, she toured a range of farms and talked with local residents about drinking water quality.
The new law lowers public drinking water levels to half the federal standard based on links to health effects at low exposures.
The program combined lab work with in-depth discussion of environmental health issues, helping teachers find new ways to connect with students.
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