The Human Toxicology and EHSRC Research Seminar line-up has been announced. Seminars are every Friday at 10:45 am and will be via zoom. Check out the page for more details
Researchers for the Pulmonary Toxicology Facility and the Exposure Science Facility contributed to a paper in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology entitled, “Inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 and Diverse RNA and DNA Viruses on 3D Printed Surgical Mask Materials”.
View the paper here:
EHSRC Member Dr. Wei Bao published a study about Bisphenol A (BPA) and death risk. The team’s findings have been featured in an article on Newsweek.com
Here is an excerpt from piece, written by Kashmira Gander :
“The new study involved 3,883 adults in the U.S. aged 20 or over who were taking part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2008. The participants provided samples of their urine, and gave information including their age, sex, race, diet, and exercise levels.
Of the total volunteers, 344 died 10 years after the study started, including 71 from cardiovascular disease, and 75 from cancer.
Dr. Wei Bao Department, assistant professor in the College of Public Health at University of Iowa and colleagues found that those who had higher levels of BPA in their urine had a greater risk of dying by the end of the study.
Participants with the highest levels of BPA had a 51 percent higher risk of death from any cause. The link remained when the researchers accounted for factors that might put a person at higher risk of dying, they said.”
Low-cost approach may lower adolescent pesticide exposure
Young workers in Egypt who apply pesticides adopted safer practices after low-cost intervention.
This article was written by Arif Rahman and released in July 2020 on the NIEHS Environmental Factor, see article on NIEHS website
Unsafe application of pesticides is a major health risk among young agricultural workers in low- and middle-income countries. To help address that problem, NIEHS grant recipient Diane Rohlman, Ph.D., and collaborators in Egypt developed an intervention that improved the workplace behaviors and hygiene practices of adolescent field laborers in that country. Rohlman is a professor of occupational and environmental health at the University of Iowa.
Young people are more susceptible to negative health effects of pesticides than adults, and more likely to engage in unsafe work habits, increasing their risk of exposure, according to the study. The authors noted that adolescents who spray the chemicals on crops can exhibit poor lung function and neurobehavioral problems, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Through funding from NIEHS and the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center, the researchers fostered several positive changes among the teens, including the following:
- Staying out of recently sprayed fields.
- Using a stick instead of hands to mix pesticides.
- Bathing and wearing clean clothes after application.
Intervention based on behavioral change theory
“In order for people to change their behavior, they have to believe that they are at risk,” said Rohlman. “They also have to know what to do to protect themselves and believe that these behaviors will protect them.”
After conducting field observations and surveys, the team placed approximately 120 participants into risk categories. Those who viewed pesticides as a major health threat and felt they could take precautions were called responsive. Adolescents who did not view pesticides as a serious risk and did not think they could improve safety were called indifferent.
Next, the researchers provided a one-hour training session on reducing pesticide exposure and enhancing hygiene. They found that after the intervention, about 90% of participants fell into the responsive group, whereas before the intervention, only about 42% were in that category.
The scientists followed up with the adolescents after eight months. Positive behavioral changes were sustained during that period, although the percentage of responsive participants dropped slightly. Rohlman said that with regular intervention, her approach can provide a low-cost way to reduce harmful exposures in a variety of agricultural and industrial settings.
Successful international partnership
“NIEHS partners with Fogarty to support collaborative research on brain and nervous system disorders,” said Kimberly Gray, Ph.D., health scientist administrator in the institute’s Population Health Branch. “Rohlman’s project contributes to the long-term goal of building sustainable research capacity in low- and middle-income countries.”
Rohlman met her Egyptian collaborators at a scientific conference in the United States. “It has been a wonderful experience working with colleagues from Menoufia University,” she said.
The researchers worked closely with the Ministry of Agriculture in Egypt, where cotton production is highly regulated. The ministry, which hires adolescents to work in fields during the summer, was actively involved in on-site training and focus group discussions with participants.
Noting that she and the research team would like to continue this initiative, Rohlman said that she hopes her intervention can be used in other countries.
Understudied health problem
Many children and teenagers work as pesticide applicators. However, most research into the chemicals focuses on unborn and newborn babies, according to Rohlman. To help fill that gap, she studies how the substances affect the adolescent brain.
High-exposure participants show neurobehavioral deficits that last months after the pesticide application season ends, noted Rohlman, who added that more research is needed.
Citation: Rohlman DS, Davis JW, Ismail A, Abdel Rasoul GM, Hendy O, Olson JR, Bonner MR. 2020. Risk perception and behavior in Egyptian adolescent pesticide applicators: an intervention study. BMC Public Health 20(1):679.
(Arif Rahman, Ph.D., is a visiting fellow in the National Toxicology Program Toxicoinformatics Group.)
This year the Iowa Governors Conference on Public Health has been moved online. A benefit of this is that presentations are available for anyone to watch! The Community Engagement Core’s Jackie Curnick presented about “Scientific Communication Approaches to Improve Environmental Health Literacy” on April 15, 2020. Watch the presentation here! (presentation starts around 7 minutes 30 seconds)
The EHSRC has awarded the most recent round of Pilot Grants. There are four awarded projects. Congrats to the investigators! See the list here
The goals of the pilot program are to:
- Provide initial support for junior investigators to establish new lines of environmental health research
- Provide services of state-of-the-art facility cores to pilot grant investigators to enhance their research
- Facilitate exploration of innovative new directions in environmental health for established investigators
- Stimulate investigators from other disciplines to apply their expertise to environmental health research
- Foster new interdisciplinary collaborations through awarding of pilot projects to investigators that have not previously worked together
EHSRC investigators wear many hats, both inside and outside of their membership with the Center. Many have been active contributors in response to the emerging questions and needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. As experts in the fields of respiratory health, industrial hygiene, engineering, aerosol science, patient care, vaccine development, and community engagement, they are tirelessly offering up their expertise to the cause by developing new technologies and interventions, working the front lines of patient care, delving into the complex infrastructural challenges, and advising governmental authorities and the general public. We are proud to count them among our members and pay tribute to their ongoing efforts in this fight.
The EHSRC will still be hosting weekly seminars on Fridays via zoom. Check out our seminar page to see the most up to date info!
Article by Tom Snee, University of Iowa published here
A new study from the University of Iowa suggests that people who have higher levels of a chemical in their body that indicates exposure to commonly used insecticides die of cardiovascular disease at a significantly higher rate.
Findings from the study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest those who have high levels of exposure to pyrethroid insecticides are three times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than people with low or no exposure.
Wei Bao, assistant professor of epidemiology in the University of Iowa College of Public Health and the study’s corresponding author, says the findings come from an analysis of a nationally representative sample of American adults, not just those who work in agriculture. That means the findings have public health relevance to the general population.
He also cautions that as an observational study, the research does not determine if the people in the sample died as a direct result of their exposure to pyrethroids. He says that the results indicate a high likelihood of a link, but more research is needed to replicate the findings and determine the biological mechanisms.
Pyrethroids are among the list of commonly used insecticides with the largest market share and they constitute the majority of commercial household insecticides. They are found in numerous commercial insecticide brands and are used widely in agricultural, public, and residential settings for pest control. Metabolites of pyrethroids, such as 3-phenoxybenzoic acid, can be measured in the urine of people who are exposed to pyrethroids.
Bao and his team of researchers analyzed data on 3-phenoxybenzoic acid levels in urine samples collected from 2,116 adults aged 20 and over who participated in the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2002. They cross-referenced mortality records to determine how many of those adults in their data sample had died by 2015 and of what cause.
They found that during an average 14 years of observation, those people who had the highest levels of 3-phenoxybenzoic acid in their urine samples were 56% more likely to have died of any cause by 2015 than people with the lowest levels of exposure. Cardiovascular disease was by far the leading cause of death, with a three times greater likelihood.
While Bao’s study did not determine how the subjects became exposed to pyrethroids, he says previous studies show that most exposure to pyrethroids is through food, as people who eat fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with them ingest the chemical. Residential use of pyrethroids in gardens and homes for pest-control is also a significant source of exposure. Pyrethroids are also present in household dust in homes that apply these pesticides.
Bao notes that the market share of pyrethroid insecticides has increased since the 1999–2002 study period, which makes it likely the rate of cardiovascular disease-related deaths related to its exposure has increased, as well. However, Bao says, further investigation is needed to assess whether this hypothesis holds.
The paper, “Association Between Exposure to Pyrethroid Insecticides and Risk of All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in the General US Adult Population,” was co-authored by Buyun Liu and Hans-Joachim Lehmler in the UI College of Public Health and Derek Simonsen, a UI graduate student in human toxicology. It was published in the Dec. 30, 2019, issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.
View some new content by the EHSRC!
This video focuses on how to read a Consumer Confidence Report:
We also have 5 videos of the Research Translation Mini Series, they can be viewed here:
Members of the EHSRC, along with partners from around the state, have released the 2019 Iowa Climate Change Statement, focusing on extreme heat and heatwaves.
Press Coverage of the Statement
Iowa Public Radio- Severe Heat Waves Will Likely Threaten Iowa Residents, Workers, Farmers
Cedar Rapids Gazette- Iowa scientists, educators warn time running out to combat climate change
Des Moines Register, written by EHSRC Member Dr. Jerry Schnoor –
We are excited to announce the dates for some of our regular EHSRC programs!
Human Toxicology and EHSRC Research Seminars:
Fridays at 10:45 am View info here
Research Translation Mini Seminar Series view poster here
Specific Aims Review Meetings:
All meetings are from 1-2 pm in CPHB room S302.
October 17, 2019
January 9, 2020
February 20, 2020
April 2, 2020
May 15, 2020
June 25, 2020
August 6, 2020
Fall 2019 dates are:
September 12- 5 pm in Mt. Vernon
September 17- 7 pm in Fairfield
October 17- 5 pm in Mt. Vernon
October 22- 7 pm in Fairfield
November 14- 5 pm in Mt. Vernon
November 19- 7 pm in Fairfield
(Lenexa, Kan., Aug. 14, 2019) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the University of Iowa will receive a $1.07 million EPA Farmer to Farmer Cooperative Agreement to fund a project that improves water quality, habitat, and environmental education.
The University of Iowa will receive $1,064,926 for its project, “Connecting Rural and Peri-Urban Farmers to Demonstrate and Disseminate Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Practices.” The university will partner with rural farmers and urban consumers in Johnson and Iowa counties to demonstrate innovative nutrient and sediment reduction practices. To maximize the ability to demonstrate how practices perform through intensive water quality monitoring, this project will focus on oxbow lake restorations, alternative tile intakes, and nitrogen-removing wetlands and ponds. These practices also provide flood storage, which watershed residents have identified as a high priority.
“These Farmer to Farmer grants will promote innovative, market-based solutions for monitoring and improving water quality throughout the Gulf of Mexico watershed,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These grants are an important part of our efforts to support America’s farmers in a manner that strengthens both American agriculture and the protection of our nation’s vital water resources.”
“Farmer to Farmer Cooperative Agreements directly support science and technology-based water quality initiatives needed to protect our watersheds, while also maintaining a vital agricultural economy,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “Here in Region 7, a combined $3.15 million in funding will support Iowa in the restoration and installation of wetlands, as well as the use of cover crops, to help provide measurable water quality improvement to waterways across Iowa and further downstream in the Gulf of Mexico.”
“The College of Engineering, Iowa Flood Center, and IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering at the University of Iowa are excited to partner with rural farmers and urban consumers in Johnson and Iowa counties to demonstrate innovative nutrient and sediment reduction practices in Iowa,” said University of Iowa Vice President for Research Marty Scholtz. “This grant recognizes the university’s national leadership in water research. The $1.07 million from EPA will leverage watershed restoration funds from the $97 million Iowa Watershed Approach project to create measurable water quality improvements in stream segments within the Lower Iowa River watershed.”
A ceremony honoring the Iowa recipients took place today at the Iowa State Fair and was led by EPA Region 7 Administrator Gulliford. EPA anticipates awarding seven Gulf of Mexico Division cooperative agreements totaling more than $7.5 million to fund projects that improve water quality, habitat, and environmental education in the Gulf watershed.
Since 2018, approximately $9.5 million has been awarded to support novel or innovative agricultural techniques, methods or approaches through EPA’s Farmer to Farmer Cooperative Agreements. These projects support farmer-led and/or farmer-focused organizations with experience implementing programs and demonstration projects through collaboration with farmers. The projects will center around innovative monitoring systems that will measure and report field-scale water and nutrient dynamics to farmers in support of informed crop management decisions. The program supports science and technology-based water quality initiatives needed to protect watersheds while also maintaining a vital agricultural economy.
The Clean Water Act provides authority and resources that are essential to protecting water quality in the Gulf of Mexico and larger Mississippi River Basin. EPA’s regional offices and the Gulf of Mexico Division work with states to continue to maximize the efficiency and utility of water quality monitoring efforts for local managers by coordinating and standardizing state and federal water quality data collection activities in the Gulf region. Enhanced monitoring and research are needed in the Gulf Coast region to make data more readily available.
See article as posted on EPA website
On June 19-21, 2019, the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center (EHSRC) hosted the annual meeting of the 23 national NIEHS Core Centers funded to conduct research, training and community engagement in the environmental health sciences. The meeting is traditionally hosted at one of the Center sites, and this year, the University of Iowa’s EHSRC was selected.
On the evening of June 19, a small delegation of meeting participants from NIEHS and UI toured three local farms – Morning Glory Farms, Broulik Farms and Mallie Farms – to discuss current farming practices in the Midwest. Following, a community forum which attracted approximately 110 people was held in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where a series of speakers talked about water quality concerns in the state.
Over the course of the next two days, approximately 200 participants joined the full meetings in the College of Public Health Building, with a social event at Hancher Auditorium on the evening of June 20.
The conference agenda included sessions for the Community Engagement Cores, the Center Administrators, and the scientific community. Keynote presentations were delivered on the first day by Dr. Jerald Schnoor, UI Department of Engineering on A new paradigm for supplying safe drinking water, and Dr. Detlef Knappe from North Carolina State University on Drinking water contaminants in the Cape Fear watershed.
Concurrent breakout sessions were held on a variety of topics including Disaster Research Response, Emerging Issues with Pesticides, and Reporting Back Research Results, among others. Poster sessions featured the research of early stage investigators, and New EHSCC Research was highlighted in a series of lightning presentations on Day 2. In addition, three presentations and a panel discussion were held on Emerging issues with electronic nicotine delivery systems (E-cigarettes).
NIEHS Director, Dr. Linda Birnbaum delivered a stimulating presentation on perfluoralkyl substances, an emerging class of water pollutants, entitled, PFAS: Emerging but Not New.
(Article by Nancy Wyland)
For more information on the program and speakers view the meeting booklet here: EHSCC 2019 Annual Meeting Program Booklet
The Environmental Health Sciences Research Center (EHSRC) hosted more than 40 journalists, researchers, and students on March 5, 2019, to discuss challenges and opportunities in the field of science communication and environmental reporting. The summit, held at Drake Community Library in Grinnell, Iowa, aimed to increase journalists’ interest in reporting about environmental issues, as well as to help researchers better communicate effectively to general audiences.
Part of the mission of the EHSRC Community Engagement Core is to improve environmental health literacy. Bringing together journalists with environmental health researchers is one way to increase the public access to science. For this event, the EHSRC collaborated with IowaWatch, the UI School of Journalism and Communications, the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC), and the Center for Prairie Studies at Grinnell College.
Speakers included journalists Amy Mayer from Iowa Public Radio and Lyle Muller from IowaWatch along with University of Iowa faculty and researchers from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Colleges of Engineering, Medicine, and Public Health. Chris Martin from the Department of Communication Studies and Digital Journalism at the University of Northern Iowa and his daughter, a student journalist from the award-winning Cedar Falls High School newspaper, The Tiger Hi-Line, gave a presentation about engaging high school student journalists in environmental reporting.
Journalists from media outlets across the state participated, including the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, The Des Moines Register, Estherville News, the Iowa City Press-Citizen, and Iowa Public Radio. A diverse group of students were in attendance as well with representation from the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Grinnell College, and Muscatine Community College.
The event included panel discussions about science in the media and nitrates in water, hands-on activities about environmental storytelling, and a brainstorming session to generate environmental topics for future reporting. Darrin Thompson, a PhD candidate in occupational and environmental health, discussed his research on neonicotinoids, and Peter Thorne, professor and head of occupational and environmental health and director of the EHSRC, gave a presentation about his experiences as chair of the EPA Science Advisory Board. Participants also engaged in a group literature discussion to comment on real stories that have been published recently in Iowa.
This story is also published on the College of Public Health Website
You can view 5 of the sessions from the Environmental Journalism Summit. View them here
Congratulations to Dr. Gregory LeFevre for winning the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award. Dr. LeFevre is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a researcher a the IIHR- Hydroscience & Engineering Research Center.
The $500,000 project is titled “Toward Resilient Stormwater Quality Practices: Biotransformation for Sustained Removal of Emerging Contaminants” and it will be funded through 2024.
Photo courtesy of UI College of Engineering
HUMAN TOXICOLOGY AND EHSRC RESEARCH SEMINAR (TOX:7180) FOR SPRING 2019
Time: Friday 10:45 am
Location: 283 EMRB
January 25 – Are mitochondria bystanders in malignant brain tumor?
Corinne E. Griguer, PhD
Free Radical & Radiation Biology Program, Department of Radiation-Oncology, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa
February 1 – Protecting the organelle at the expense of the organ? ER stress in fatty liver diease
Thomas Rutkowksi, PhD
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa
February 8 – Emerging options in publishing: Megajournals, micropublications, preprint servers, publishing data sets, ‘negative’ results, etc.
Mirko von Elstermann
February 15– Regulation of outer membrane vesicle-induced cytotoxicity by LPS-recognition proteins
Jason H. Barker, MD
Department of Internal Medicine – Infectious Diseases, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa
February 22 – Enhancing efficacy of peptide receptor radionuclide therapy for neuroendocrine tumors
IDGP in Human Toxicology, University of Iowa
March 1- Early Life Pesticide Exposure: Behavioral and Neuroanatomical Outcomes
Jill L. Silverman, PhD
MIND Institute and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UC Davis School of Medicine
March 8 – Endocrine disruptor effects during early development on the structure of the prefrontal cortex and cognitive behavior
Janice M Juraska, PhD
Department of Psychology, Program in Neuroscience and Beckman Institute affiliate, University of Illinois
March 10-14 – 58th Annual Meeting and ToxExpo, Baltimore, Maryland
March 17-24 – Spring Break
March 29 –Weather and Risk of Urinary Tract Infections and Pneumonia
Jacob E. Simmering, PhD
Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa
April 5 – Prevalence of uranium series radionuclides in iowa groundwater resources
IDGP in Human Toxicology, University of Iowa
April 12 – TBN
Shailendra Giri, PhD
Department of Neurology, Henry Ford Hospital
April 19 – Endocrine disrupting chemicals: a costly public health threat with opportunities for policy prevention
Leonardo Trasande, MD
Division of Environmental Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine & Population Health, NYU School of Medicine
April 26 – Investigation of the anti-tumor responses of Toll-Like Receptor (TLR) agonists combined with EGFR targeted therapy and immunotherapy in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas
IDGP in Human Toxicology, University of Iowa
May 3rd – Organosulfates: A missing link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease?
Elizabeth Stone, PhD
Department of Chemistry, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, The University of Iowa
Pamela J. Lein, PhD
Department of Molecular Biosciences, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Please contact Hans-Joachim Lehmler (at 335-4981 or email@example.com) for more information.