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Your Environment. Your Health.

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health

PEPH Newsletter

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Volume 11, Issue 2: February 2020

New Oral Histories Preserve Memories of Living Near Arizona Superfund Sites

Voices Unheard Arizona's Environmental History

A new collection of oral histories, Voices Unheard, were posted online for public viewing in January. Through audio and video recordings, the life stories of people affected by two Arizona Superfund sites are preserved for future generations. This novel, community-driven project captures an aspect of Arizona’s environmental history through the people who live and work near the sites.

“A lot of technical reports document the history of contamination and cleanup at the sites, but there is little documenting the local knowledge and history of the people living next to and affected by these sites. The Voices Unheard Project helps fill that gap,” explained Denise Moreno Ramírez, a trainee at the NIEHS-funded University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center who developed the project as part of her dissertation research.

Moreno Ramírez

Moreno Ramírez has worked with the community near the Tucson International Airport Area Superfund site and their Community Advisory Board since 2005. (Photo courtesy of Denise Moreno Ramírez)

Moreno Ramírez documented more than 20 stories from communities near the Tucson International Airport Area Superfund site and the Iron King Mine - Humboldt Smelter Superfund site.

Capturing Community Voices

The project originated from the 25th Anniversary Planning Committee of the Tucson International Airport Area Unified Community Advisory Board.

“We discussed how individuals that were involved with the Community Advisory Board hold important history that is tied to their experiences,” said Moreno Ramírez. “The community wanted to do something to capture this history before it is lost as people age or leave the area.”

Moreno Ramírez interviewed people with deep roots in the affected communities, such as Yolanda Herrera, a fifth-generation Tucsonan, a second-generation Community Advisory Board member, and currently the community co-chair and the first woman to lead the group. She also interviewed people with technical and historical knowledge of the sites. For example, she spoke with James J. Lemmon, a former hydrologist for the Arizona Department of Health, who discovered the contamination on the Tucson International Airport Area Superfund site. She also spoke with Iron King Mine employees Antonio Ramírez Olvera and Charlie Reyes, Sr., who discussed working conditions in the mine and the history of the site.

Informing Research and Cleanup

“In addition to capturing individual experiences and histories, we also captured local knowledge that can be used as scientific observations,” added Moreno Ramírez.

Moreno Ramírez sits with the Dewey-Humboldt Environmental Board during a meeting

Moreno Ramírez updates the Dewey-Humboldt Environmental Board on the status of the Voices Unheard Project in March 2019. Throughout the project, she provided regular updates at meetings in both communities.
(Photo courtesy of Denise Moreno Ramírez)

Some oral history interviewees mentioned people commonly taking old materials from the Iron King Mine Superfund site, such as bricks and tanks, to reuse in their residences. As a result, it has become apparent that materials from the mine site are spread throughout the community and should be investigated further for spreading contamination.

Moreno Ramírez added that the interviews help inform future research because they provide a better understanding of who may have been historically exposed to contaminants from the sites.

“We discovered through the oral histories that many of the Iron King miners were of Mexican descent, but the popular history reflects more of a European immigrant experience,” said Moreno Ramírez. “The testimonies of three underground miners detail the reality that Mexican miners were the majority at this mine. This information can inform future studies interested in addressing historically exposed populations.”

A Community-Directed Project

“Because these are personal stories, methodology is important,” said Moreno Ramírez. “I implemented a strict review protocol that allowed community members to vet their history every step of the way as it reached the final archival product.”

For elderly participants, she incorporated family members in the review process to ensure they were aware of the oral history content and help determine which material could be displayed as part of the individual’s archive.

“The idea for this project came from the community, so it was important to ensure that they remain involved and that they are happy with the outcome,” said Moreno Ramírez. “Our partnerships make the Voices Unheard Project a community-engaged oral history process.”

Undergraduate Students to Develop Health Care Technologies in DEBUT Challenge

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and VentureWell are challenging teams of undergraduate students to develop technology solutions to unmet needs in any area of health care. Areas of interest for the Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) Challenge include, but are not limited to: diagnostics, therapeutics, technologies for underserved populations or low-resource settings, point-of-care systems, precision medicine, preventive medicine, technologies to aid individuals with disabilities, and HIV/AIDS prevention and care. In addition, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities is joining the 2020 DEBUT challenge to sponsor a prize focused on development of accessible health care technologies for underrepresented populations or low-resource settings, and the NIH Office of AIDS Research will sponsor a prize for technologies for HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Student teams participating in capstone design projects are especially encouraged to enter. Applications are due June 1, 2020.

NIMHD Seeks Public Input on Preliminary Social Determinants of Health Measurement Protocols

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) seeks feedback on social determinants of health measures proposed for inclusion in the PhenX Toolkit. The PhenX Toolkit provides investigators access to standardized measures to incorporate into biomedical studies involving human participants. The goal of the Toolkit is to encourage researchers to use common measures to help them effectively collaborate and share data.

Review the proposed social determinants of health measures in the PhenX Portal. All responses must be completed using the Feedback Form and submitted by email to feedback@phenx.org. Responses are due February 5, 2020.

Explore Wildfire Data with the Smoke Sense Data Visualization Tool

The Smoke Sense Data Visualization Tool allows users to interact with citizen science data related to the impacts of wildfire smoke. The new data visualization tool includes graphics showing where participants reported smoke, their health symptoms, the actions they took to reduce smoke exposure, and more. Data used in the graphics is updated every six hours, providing near real-time visualizations.

Initiated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Smoke Sense is a research project that enables citizen scientists to engage with a mobile phone application to explore air quality maps, report health and behavioral responses to wildfire smoke, and learn how to protect their health during wildfire events.

EPA Solicits Comments for Adding Certain PFAS to Toxics Release Inventory

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting comments from the public as the agency considers proposing a future rule on adding certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) toxic chemical list. The TRI is a resource for learning about toxic chemical releases and pollution prevention activities reported by industrial and federal facilities. TRI data support informed decision making by communities, government agencies, companies, and others. EPA is requesting comments on which PFAS should be evaluated for listing, how to list them, and appropriate reporting thresholds. Comments are due February 3, 2020.

Young adult female with young girl sitting on a sofa looking at a cellphone together

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

Harnessing Social Media to Share Science on Breast Cancer and the Environment

In our latest podcast, Harnessing Social Media to Share Science on Breast Cancer and the Environment, hear how health communication researchers are improving online information and messages about breast cancer. Plus, learn how they are teaming with social media influencers to help people understand and reduce their risk.

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 podcast@niehs.nih.gov.

Listen to more PEPH Podcasts
Cheyenne Grabiec
PEPH Grantee Highlight

Cheyenne Grabiec

Seeing a connection between the state of the environment and the health of people within the Navajo Nation inspired Cheyenne Grabiec to educate indigenous communities and scientists about environmental health issues. Grabiec, of the Navajo Nation, spearheaded several environmental health education and engagement efforts through the NIEHS-funded Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of Arizona. For example, he organized community-based events, called science cafes, where scientists discuss environmental health issues with community members and youth engage in hands-on activities to learn more about environmental health sciences. He also led development of an Indigenous Inquiry Framework, which guides scientists to design and implement projects in collaboration with tribal partners, placing indigenous culture at the center of research.

Read more about Grantee

Funding Opportunites

Application Due Date Feb 05 2020
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.

Deadline: February 5, 2020 (R01), February 16, 2020 (R03 and R21)
Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date.

Application Due Date Feb 07 2020
Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program

Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program supports community-based organizations, tribes, and tribal organizations seeking to address environmental and public health concerns in local underserved communities through collaboration with other stakeholders, such as local businesses and industry, local government, medical service providers, and academia.

Deadline: February 7, 2020.

Application Due Date Feb 27 2020
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Availability of Administrative and Revision Supplements to Expand Vaping Research and Understand EVALI

Calls for research on the causes, disease mechanisms, and long-term prognosis of individuals with electronic cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) and related health effects of vaping. See the NOSI for the research interests and eligible activity codes for participating institutes and centers.

Deadline: February 27, 2020.

Application Due Date Mar 04 2020
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: March 04, 2020

Application Due Date Mar 09 2020
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. 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: March 9, 2020

Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date.

Application Due Date Mar 11 2020
Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Program

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Interdisciplinary Research Leaders is a leadership program for teams of two researchers and one community partner. In addition to engaging in leadership training and building new networks, each team designs a research project addressing health and equity in their community. Project topics for the 2020 program must address one of two themes: (1) Community Environment and Health or (2) Families and Child Health. Applications open January 10, 2020.

Deadline: March 11, 2020 (The application timeline is subject to change; see the How to Apply webpage for updates.)

Application Due Date May 25 2020
Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Pilot Project Award (SC2 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

SCORE is a developmental program designed to increase the research competitiveness of faculty and the research base at institutions with an explicitly stated historical mission and/or a demonstrated track record within the previous 10 years of training and graduating students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research. Eligible institutions must award science degrees to undergraduate (B.S. or B.A.) and/or graduate (M.S. or Ph.D.) students and have received less than $6 million per year of NIH R01 support (total costs) in each of the last two fiscal years. The Pilot Project Award (SC2) is for those who are at the beginning stages of a research career, applying for their first non-fellowship research award, and who are interested in testing a new idea or generating preliminary data.

Deadline: May 25, 2020

Application Due Date May 25 2020
Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Research Advancement Award (SC1 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

SCORE is a developmental program designed to increase the research competitiveness of faculty and the research base at institutions with an explicitly stated historical mission and/or a demonstrated track record within the previous 10 years of training and graduating students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research. Eligible institutions must award science degrees to undergraduate (B.S. or B.A.) and/or graduate (M.S. or Ph.D.) students and have received less than $6 million per year of NIH R01 support (total costs) in each of the last two fiscal years. The Research Advancement Award (SC1) is for investigators with a track record of research activity who are seeking to enhance their research productivity to transition to non-SCORE support in a limited period.

Deadline: May 25, 2020

Application Due Date Dec 04 2020
Research to Action: Assessing and Addressing Community Exposures to Environmental Contaminants (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)

Encourages multidisciplinary projects to investigate the potential health risks of environmental exposures of concern to a community and to implement an environmental public health action plan based on research findings. Projects supported under this program are expected to employ community-engaged research methods to not only conduct research but also to seamlessly translate research findings into public health action. Check out the Research to Action Currently Funded Grantees webpage for a sense of the types of projects supported through this FOA.

Deadline: December 4, 2020

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 for application due dates.

Visit the Funding Opportunity Announcements Page

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

Apr 20 - 22 2020
NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration in Baltimore, Maryland. This seminar is intended to demystify the NIH application and review process, clarify federal regulations and policies, and highlight current areas of special interest or concern.
May 12 - 15 2020
Air Sensors International Conference in Pasadena, California. The UC Davis Air Quality Research Center will bring together stakeholders from academia, government, communities, and commercial interests to promote and advance air pollution sensors, improve the data quality from these sensors, expand the pollutants measured, and foster community involvement in monitoring air quality.
Jun 2 - 5 2020
International Society for Children’s Health and the Environment (ISCHE) Retreat in Hardingasete, Norway. Join a broad community of researchers, clinicians, regulatory and advocacy professionals, and young investigators at ISCHE’s 5th retreat titled, “Translation and Communication to Protect Children from Toxic Chemicals.” Proposed sessions will focus on diverse themes, including nurturing young investigators, translating interventions into real-world solutions, and environmental issues in Europe and around the world. Space is limited, so register early.
Jun - Jul 29 - 1 2020
3rd Annual National Native Health Research Training Conferencein Temecula, California. The primary goal of this annual conference is to contribute toward the growth of a Native health research community that is dedicated to honoring tribal decision-making processes, building trust through tribal community participation, and guided by tribal cultural knowledge and values.
Aug 3 - 7 2020
NIMHD Health Disparities Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Hosted by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), the Health Disparities Research Institute supports career development of promising early-career minority health and health disparities research scientists. Applications will be accepted February 3 - March 9, 2020.

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