The various EHSRC facilities provide fascinating expertise, services and opportunities for collaboration. The facility core directors have created presentations with more information so researchers can utilize these resources. View them below or on the facility page for more details.
The EHSRC Community Engagement Core is proud to present the Iowa Climate Podcast! In this podcast we talk about the changing climate in our state and the people who are making a different through research, activism, and community building. Season 1 is called the Changemakers season! Listen now on soundcloud !
Check out the newest call for proposals on the Pilot Grant page!
- July 15, 2023: Preliminary communications as outlined
- August 1, 2023: Final Submission
Friday April 21, 2023, 11 am -12 pm central time
View the recording of the seminar here: https://uicapture.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=8051a43b-dded-48cb-9c4d-afeb0120f98c
Disaster Preparedness and Response: Opportunities for a Community Engaged Approach
Sato Ashida, PhD, Department of Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa
Jennifer Horney, PhD, MPH, Department of Epidemiology, University of Delaware
Jason Taylor, Executive Director of Bur Oak Land Trust
This event is part of our Toxicology Research seminar series
The EHSRC is pleased to announce funding available of up to $10,000 available to facilitate community engaged and translational research related to environmental health.
Due date: June 1, 2023
Effective research translation and community engagement that result in new products or knowledge are iterative processes developed over time. The CERT fellowship funding will facilitate developing relationships and solving environmental health challenges in collaboration with audiences appropriate to the Fellow’s research, including community members, community-based organizations, clinicians, or others, to create new outputs of their research that are produced in collaboration with these stakeholders. Eligible applicants include faculty of any track, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students completing a masters or doctoral thesis at the University of Iowa with interests in issues related to environmental contamination, environmental practices, community health and wellbeing, the effects of climate change on health, and community engaged research.
Fellows are strongly encouraged to utilize the resources of the EHSRC to enhance their work. This could include regular consultations with Community Engagement Core staff or use of the Integrated Health Sciences Facility Core (IHSFC) resources (e.g. Use of Clinical Research Unit Resources, Pulmonary Function Test Laboratory, Coordinator support, Advanced Pulmonary Physiomic Imaging Laboratory (APPIL))
Activities as part of the Fellowship must be relevant to the mission of the EHSRC and may include
- Relationship development, such as creating a stakeholder advisory board or working with community collaborators to identify research questions
- Conducting a needs assessment to identify community needs related to environmental health
- Conducting translational research to develop and implement clinical practices
- Collaboratively developing report-back materials to share environmental data with community members
Funds of up to $10,000 will be awarded directly to an investigator for a one-year period. Up to half of the proposed budget may be devoted to combined salary and fringe of the principal investigator. We anticipate making 1-2 awards to meritorious applications.
The application should include the following components
- Cover page that includes project title, name and contact information of principal investigators, and 250 word abstract (1 page)
- Project description/research strategy (up to 2 pages)
- The aims of the project and the research methodology (if appropriate)
- Anticipated outcomes and deliverables of the project.
- Describe how this project will engage with/utilize the resources of the EHSRC, such as the Community Engagement Core staff, the IHSFC, or others.
- Project justification (up to 2 pages)
- How will community engagement improve long-term or future research outcomes?
- Why are the community members identified in the proposal appropriate collaborators for this work?
- What unique elements of the collaboration will contribute to the project’s success
- What will be the next steps after the project is successfully completed?
- Budget and budget justification (up to 2 pages)
- Allowable expenses include salary and fringe (up to half of the proposed budget), travel expenses for investigators and community partners, compensation for community partners, and most expenses related to community events.
- CV or Biosketch for project PI(s) (up to 2 pages)
Email application as one document to Jacquelinefirstname.lastname@example.org
PDF of this RFP: CERT RFP 2023
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, EHSRC researchers have been doing important work to understand and treat this illness. Below are some recent activities by center members. Check out our Response to COVID-19 page to read more.
Alejandro Comellas contributed to a study on post-COVID brain fog and fatigue, revealing a negative impact on daily activities, work/employment and interpersonal relationships. Post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC) is a poorly understood condition with significant impact on quality of life. This study aimed to better understand the lived experiences of patients with PASC, focusing on the impact of cognitive complaints (“brain fog”) and fatigue on (1) daily activities, (2) work/employment, and (3) interpersonal relationships. The team conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with 15 patients of a Midwestern academic hospital’s post-COVID-19 clinic. Participants frequently used descriptive and metaphorical language to describe symptoms that were relapsing-remitting and unpredictable. Fatigue and brain fog affected all domains and identified subthemes included symptoms’ synergistic effects, difficulty with multitasking, lack of support, poor self-perception, and fear of loss of income and employment. Personal relationships were affected with change of responsibilities, difficulty parenting, social isolation, and guilt due to the burdens placed on family. Furthermore, underlying social stigma contributed to negative emotions, which significantly affected emotional and mental health. Our findings highlight PASC’s negative impact on patients’ daily lives.
Gary Pierce participated in a study team to evaluate the activity levels of college students during the pandemic. The Activity Questionnaire for Adults and Adolescents estimated physical activity and sedentary time before, early, and later in the pandemic. Barriers and facilitators to physical activity were assessed at early and later timepoints. Open-ended questions examined additional impacts. Comparing before vs. early/later pandemic assessments, respondents reported a significant decrease in physical activity metabolic equivalent (MET)-minutes/week and a significant increase in sedentary MET-minutes/week. The top barrier was schoolwork (47.7%). The top facilitator was social support (21.5%). Responses to open-ended questions indicated that most individuals reported sitting more during the pandemic, with variation in physical activity patterns. Adverse changes in physical activity and sedentary behavior observed early in the pandemic were sustained.
Paul Romitti co-authored a publication reporting a study on the relationship between trimester of SARS-CoV-2 infection, illness severity, and risk for preterm birth. Data was analyzed for 6336 pregnant persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection in 2020 in the United States. The study found that pregnant persons with critical COVID-19 or asymptomatic infection, compared to mild COVID-19, in the second or third trimester were at increased risk of preterm birth. Pregnant persons with moderate-to-severe COVID-19 did not show increased risk of preterm birth in any trimester.
Julia Klesney-Tait was part of a study to determine whether recipients of lung transplantation (LT) for COVID-19-related lung disease have comparable outcomes to other recipients with a similar level of lung dysfunction. Lung transplantation is an acceptable and potentially life-saving treatment option for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome and pulmonary fibrosis. A total of 37,333 LT candidates from all causes were compared with 334 candidates from COVID-19-related respiratory failure. COVID-19 recipients were more likely to be younger (50 vs 57 years), male (79% vs 60%), require extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (56.3% vs 4.0%), and have worse lung function (lung allocation score, 82.4 vs 47.8) at transplantation. Patients who received a transplant for COVID-19 had similar rates of mechanical ventilation, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, postoperative complications, and functional status at discharge compared with controls. There was no difference in overall survival or risk of death from COVID-19.
Brandi Janssen contributed to a study on how the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic affected food availability and accessibility for many older adults, especially those experiencing food insecurity. Food citizenship is a theoretical framework that encourages the use of alternate over industrial food sources and can characterize where foods are acquired and how food choices are made. The purpose of this study is to explore how Iowans aged 50 years and older made choices about what foods to acquire and where to acquire foods during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic using food citizenship as a theoretical framework.
R. William “Bill” Field, professor emeritus of occupational and environmental health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, died Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics at the age of 68 from refractory mantle cell lymphoma.
Field completed his PhD in preventive medicine and environmental health at the University of Iowa in 1994. He joined the UI faculty in 1998. He recently retired as a Professor from the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health with appointments in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health and Department of Epidemiology.
Bill is recognized internationally for his expertise in radon and radiation health effects, not only for his epidemiologic research into the radioactive gas, but for his advocacy and community engagement efforts to inform the public about radon’s human health risks and to mitigate radon exposures. He served on the Presidential Advisory Board for Radiation and Worker Health till his death. He served on other national and World Health Organization boards during his career. He established the Occupational Epidemiology Training Program at the University of Iowa College of Public Health. He worked with professional organizations to improve radon testing and to educate the public on health risks from radon. In 2022, the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) selected Field to receive the organization’s Radon Hero Award. Above all, he was a compassionate mentor who delighted in guiding his students towards independent careers in public health.
Bill was a valued member of the EHSRC for 16 years and most recently served as leader of the Population Health Research group, as well as having participated in the drafting of state legislation (IA), speaking engagements through community forums, academic conferences, and legislative summits. His warm, collaborative spirit will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues at the EHSRC.
Congratulations to EHSRC member Aliasger Salem for a recent R21 award from NIEHS. This proposal will develop a CaMKIIN-loaded nanoparticle-based therapy that can rapidly mitigate the ROS species in the lung following chlorine exposure. Other researchers participating in this project include Peter Thorne, Andrea Dodd, and Isabella Grumbach. The Pulmonary Toxicology Facility of the EHSRC will provide support for the animal studies under this project.
The Community Engagement Core is pleased to announce the Science Café line up! Visit the webpage for more details and sign up links.
With $500,000 in funding from the OVPR Interdisciplinary Scholars awards program, an interdisciplinary team will start work on a new project at the intersection of climate, the environment, and health. The award is sponsored by the Research Development Office within the Office of the Vice President for Research.
The project team includes researchers from the College of Public Health, Carver College of Medicine, and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Hans-Joachim Lehmler, professor of occupational and environmental health and director of the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center, leads the project.
“The Interdisciplinary Scholars program is a useful tool for fostering cross-collegiate, interdisciplinary research within the University,” said Aaron Kline, director of the Research Development Office. “Interdisciplinary approaches push the boundaries of scientific research and are vital for finding solutions to ever-pressing societal challenges. These awards provide our researchers a mechanism for ambitiously catalyzing and/or coalescing campus researchers to undertake societally impactful research together.”
The team will investigate the effect of the diverse environmental stressors affected by climate change on the unique health challenges of rural people.
“Climate change compounds existing environmental health challenges and disparities facing rural populations,” said Lehmler.
Through recruitment and mentorship, the team will assemble a diverse group of scientists interested in climate change and health research. Together, they will establish an administrative structure to advance and assess thematic activities, integrate data, and translate research knowledge toward improving health in Iowa and the nation.
The project’s leadership team includes:
- Lori Adams, associate professor of instruction, Department of Biology
- Josep Comeron, professor, Department of Biology
- Hans-Joachim Lehmler, professor, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health
- Veena Prahlad, associate professor, Department of Biology
- Donna Santillan, research associate professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Mark Santillan, associate professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
“In the last few months, the northern hemisphere has been baking under unprecedented heat,” said Kline. “This award is an important, and timely, investment in research aimed at identifying evidence-based solutions for addressing health outcomes associated with unprecedented climate events such as extreme heat,” says Kline. “I’m excited that we are able to provide support to these types of impactful projects that seek solutions to 21st Century societal challenges.”
“Funding for this initiative was made possible through the University’s utility public-private partnership (P3),” said Marty Scholtz, vice president for research. “This program helps sustain growth in the research enterprise through strategic investments, while at the same time strengthening the University’s reputation as a destination for research and scholarship.”
The Interdisciplinary Scholars program is part of the OVPR’s Seeding Excellence Initiative (SEI), a two-year program that provides competitive pilot funding in four strategic areas: 1) community engaged research and scholarship, 2) diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), 3) early career scholars, and 4) interdisciplinary research.
Another call for proposals for the OVPR Interdisciplinary Scholars program will be announced no later than September 1, 2022. The request for proposals will also focus on the climate-environment-health nexus. The maximum award amount will be $100,000.
This article was written by Leslie Revaux and originally posted by the University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research
Dr. Brandi Janssen and Jackie Curnick have published a project report in the Science Education & Civic Engagement International Journal. The paper titled, “Evaluating Knowledge Transfer after a Science Cafe: A Qualitative Approach for Rural Settings,” was included in the Winter 2022 edition of the journal.
View the article pdf by clicking the image below
University of Iowa professor and EHSRC Member Michael J. Welsh, MD, has won the 2022 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine together with Paul A. Negulescu, senior vice president and site head for San Diego research with Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.
The prize was awarded for landmark discoveries of the molecular, biochemical, and functional defects underlying cystic fibrosis and the identification and development of medicines that reverse those defects and can treat most people affected by this disorder.
The Shaw Prize is considered one of the most internationally prestigious awards in science and its application, and it carries a shared monetary award of $1.2 million. It honors individuals who have made “discoveries in the biomedical sciences and innovations in clinical medicine that have led to significant victories in our longstanding war against illness and suffering.” Welsh and Negulescu will receive the prize in fall 2022.
Welsh is a professor in the UI Department of Internal Medicine and its pulmonary, critical care, and occupational medicine division. He also is a professor in the neurosurgery, neurology, and molecular physiology and biophysics departments. Welsh also serves as director of the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute at Iowa. He has been leading groups of scientists studying lung biology and cystic fibrosis (CF) for 40 years.
Brooks Jackson, MD, vice president for medical affairs and the Tyrone D. Artz Dean of the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, says Welsh’s steadfast pursuit of answers to the fundamental questions underlying cystic fibrosis disease has never wavered in that time.
“As a physician-scientist, Dr. Welsh has remained focused on how his work in the lab would improve the medical care he and colleagues could offer their patients,” Jackson says. “His commitment to discovery and innovation has dramatically changed the lives of people with CF.”
Working with colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco, in the mid-1980s, Welsh first demonstrated that CF disrupts chloride ion movement across the sheet of cells that line the lung’s airways. Chloride, a component of salt, is present in secreted body fluids such as sweat, saliva and mucus, which are vital for the proper function of organs. In the lungs of people with CF, these secretions become thick and elastic and, rather than acting to clear inhaled matter from the lungs, they clog the passageways. Affecting more than 80,000 people worldwide, CF was long considered a lethal disease in childhood. Today, Welsh can point to young people with CF who compete in varsity-level athletics. Life expectancy and health have increased dramatically thanks in part to discoveries made by Welsh and Negulescu.
After the identification of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene in 1989, Welsh and his team made key discoveries toward understanding the role the product of this gene—the CFTR protein—plays in allowing chloride to move in and out of cells. They showed how mutations in the gene and the CFTR protein cause cells to malfunction and fuel disease development. Importantly, they showed that defects in the mutated CFTR can be repaired in cells. These insights provided a roadmap for the subsequent quest toward targeted therapies to repair the function of the CFTR protein.
Building on these key discoveries, a team of scientists at Vertex, led by Negulescu, initiated research in 1998 into compounds that modulate the function of the CFTR protein. The research led to the development in 2012 of the first compound that corrects the underlying protein defect responsible for disease symptoms. The drug restored cells’ ability to transport chloride and ushered in a new era of CF treatment, sparking the development of combination-drug therapies.
“The combined contributions of Welsh and Negulescu represent the complete biomedical arc from basic discovery to application to the saving of lives,” said the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine selection committee in announcing the shared award.
Welsh was quick to share the credit for this work.
“I am honored to receive this award, which would not have been possible without so many other people who contributed: terrific mentors, talented and creative students and trainees, my tireless and innovative assistants, my cherished colleagues,” he says. “The support and environment of the University of Iowa made this possible. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Carver Trust, and Pappajohn Biomedical Institute provided crucial support along the way. I am deeply grateful.”
The Shaw Prize consists of three annual awards: the Prize in Astronomy, the Prize in Life Science and Medicine, and the Prize in Mathematical Sciences. The award is managed and administered by The Shaw Prize Foundation, based in Hong Kong.
This article was first published by the University of Iowa College of Medicine
Peter Thorne, professor of occupational and environmental health in the College of Public Health and deputy director of EHSRC, has been named a recipient of the 2022 University of Iowa Distinguished Chair.
The award is one of the highest bestowed on Iowa faculty. It recognizes tenured scholars of national and international distinction who are making a significant positive impact within the university, state of Iowa, and beyond through teaching, research, and/or scholarship.
“The University of Iowa Distinguished Chair rewards and recognizes some of the most exceptional members of our community of scholars, who have earned national and international distinction,” says Kevin Kregel, executive vice president and provost.
Thorne, who also serves as the director of the Human Toxicology Program within the Graduate College, joined the Iowa faculty in 1988. His pioneering research is focused on environmental risk factors for inflammatory lung diseases, the toxicity of engineered nanomaterials and persistent chemical pollutants, and the health effects of climate change.
Thorne is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Academy of Sciences in translating complex environmental health science to public policy. He is serving a third, three-year term on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board and served two years as chair. Thorne was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology for six years. He is the current chair of the academy’s Committee on Toxicology.
At Iowa, Thorne directed the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center for 20 years and served as head of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health for 12 years. He has led the Pulmonary Toxicology Facility core since 1993. Thorne was awarded the 2017 UI Scholar of the Year and the 2018 Iowa Board of Regents Award for Faculty Excellence. He teaches courses on health effects of climate change, global environmental health, and human toxicology. He has mentored 25 PhD students, 30 master’s students, and 18 postdoctoral fellows. With his students and staff, he has published more than 290 peer-reviewed publications.
Approaches for studying airborne exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) — and helping communities reduce such exposure — were discussed by Iowa Superfund Research Program (ISRP) Director Keri Hornbuckle, Ph.D., during her Feb. 4 Keystone Science Lecture. The NIEHS-funded program is housed at the University of Iowa.
PCBs are a large group of chemicals that persist in the environment. They have been associated with conditions such as diabetes, liver toxicity, skin ailments, and immune, neurological, and respiratory issues. The substances can be found in products ranging from adhesives and paints to insulation and electrical equipment. Although the chemicals were banned in the U.S. in 1979, potentially harmful exposure to PCBs is an ongoing concern, according to Hornbuckle.
Potentially dangerous byproducts
A group of 209 PCB mixtures known as Aroclors were produced by the company Monsanto in the middle of the 20th century for use in electrical transformers, fluorescent light ballasts, hydraulic fluid additives, building materials, and flame retardants. Sale of Aroclors was banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1975. However, non-Aroclor PCBs continue to be manufactured, largely as byproducts of certain industrial processes, noted Hornbuckle.
She explained that exposures are ubiquitous in the U.S. because of how the substances vaporize into the air, especially on hot days. Although it has been assumed that exposure comes primarily through diet because of how PCBs bioaccumulate in fish and other animals, it is now known that inhalation is another important route of exposure. Hornbuckle, who leads the ISRP Analytical Core, discussed how research methods optimized for assessment of the chemicals have provided new insights about sources of airborne PCBs, exposures, and potential for remediation.
Hornbuckle’s team developed a set of sampling and analytical methods to provide the highest quality PCB data. For example, they use an instrumental method for detection and quantification of the chemicals that uses triple quadrupole mass spectrometry. The approach allows scientists to measure PCBs with a level of accuracy and precision comparable to that provided by high-resolution mass spectrometry but at lower cost.
According to Hornbuckle, the method enables her team to better understand sources of airborne PCB exposure. She noted that the scientists study the release of the substances in cities, rural areas, and school classrooms.
Beginning in 2009, ISRP Project 4 began sampling for airborne PCBs in Chicago, and researchers discovered the prevalence of airborne non-Aroclor PCBs. The scientists determined that past systems for measuring the chemicals had been developed using Monsanto mixtures, which meant that modern PCBs produced as byproducts of manufacturing had gone unnoticed.
Interestingly, one driver of PCBs being emitted into the air involves the heat of the day, not proximity to manufacturing sites.
“The variability of PCBs across the city of Chicago is mostly driven by temperature,” Hornbuckle explained. “The hotter it is, the more they’re released into the air.”
Another surprising finding is that living in rural areas does not equate to lower levels of PCB exposure. In addition, some children experience the highest levels of PCBs in their classrooms.
Reducing health risks
“Many American schools were built in the middle part of the last century, and PCBs were widely added to building materials because they do make resilient materials that don’t need replacement — think lighting, window caulking, masonry joints, paint, and carpets,” Hornbuckle said.
Mitigating the risk of exposure in schools is challenging, she noted. There is no federal program to remove PCB contamination once it is discovered, and schools with resources to address the problem are likely in high-income areas. Because expensive remediation — removal of the substances — is often not feasible in low-income districts, more vulnerable populations can experience the most exposures.
Hornbuckle suggested that school districts can target the worst exposure areas by testing for PCBs on a room-by-room basis.
She said that the state of Vermont is undertaking such a campaign in its schools — combing for sources of PCB exposure, room by room. And a side benefit of many schools around the country updating their ventilation and air filtration systems to slow the spread of COVID-19 is that these measures lower exposure to PCBs as well.
“When you’re trying to determine toxicological risk and opportunities for remediation, some level of focus is needed,” Hornbuckle said. “It’s important to create a strategy for remediation that is cost-effective and that allows for [exposure] measurement when you’re done.”
During a lively Q&A discussion, NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Rick Woychik, Ph.D., noted that he grew up in northeastern Wisconsin on the Fox River, which became contaminated with PCBs.
“It is rather sobering to realize just how contaminated that area was,” he said, adding that in many places, PCBs are just one set of chemicals to which people are exposed.
“A major research challenge is to better understand how all of these exposures can influence health and disease,” noted Woychik.
Jahnke JC, Martinez A, Hornbuckle KC. 2022. Distinguishing Aroclor and non-Aroclor sources to Chicago air. Sci Total Environ; doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.153263 [Online 20 January 2022].
Bannavti MK, Jahnke JC, Marek RF, Just CL, Hornbuckle KC. 2021. Room-to-room variability of airborne polychlorinated biphenyls in schools and the application of air sampling for targeted source evaluation. Environ Sci Technol 55(14):9460–9468.
By Kelley Christensen. Kelley Christensen is a contract writer and editor for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.
This article was originally published in Environmental Factor, published by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences.
The Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) has selected Bill Field, University of Iowa professor emeritus of occupational and environmental health and member of the EHSRC, to receive the organization’s 2022 Radon Hero Award. The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated leadership in reducing the health effects of radon exposure, the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The award is based on the recipient’s contributions to this effort, the breadth and scope of their services, and sustained commitment to mitigating radon risk. He was previously awarded Honorary Membership to CRCPD in 2010.
Official presentation of the CRCPD Radon Hero Award will occur during the organization’s annual radon meeting in October 2022.
Field is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on radon, not only for his research into the radioactive gas, but because of his advocacy and outreach efforts. He helped identify radon as the leading environmental cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and remains dedicated to educating the public about the health risks of radon and ways to reduce exposure in homes, schools and at work.
This post was originally posted on the UI College of Public Health website.
University of Iowa health experts recommend the UI community to wear KN95 masks instead of surgical masks to offer better protection against COVID-19.
Patrick O’Shaughnessy, director of graduate studies in the UI College of Public Health Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, said N95 masks are most effective because of the tight seal formed to the face while wearing them, while the surgical masks are least effective.
“[N95 masks are] definitely the best protection. The surgical masks they’ve been passing out give the least protection,” he said. “They were designed for source control. They’re designed to protect others from you. They’re designed to catch your output from your mouth, the droplets coming out as you talk, to prevent the transmission that way.”
When the masks are looser, like the surgical ones, O’Shaughnessy said more leakage occurs out of the mask’s sides.
O’Shaughnessy said it is better to wear a KN95 mask from the university than a surgical one, as surgical masks are not supposed to be used as the main way of combating COVID-19.
“They were never designed to be a complete protection for the person wearing them,” O’Shaughnessy said. “That’s where it’s really important for the whole campus community together to be wearing the [KN95] masks.”
The UI announced on Jan. 12 that it would stock each university building health station with KN95 masks, an upgrade from the blue surgical masks given out during the first semester.
O’Shaughnessy said he ranks the KN95 masks that the UI are giving out somewhere in the middle of the other two types of masks, as they can form a tighter seal to the mouth than the surgical masks.
“Especially with the nose metal piece there, you get a better seal around your nose with the KN95,” O’Shaughnessy said. “They filter very similarly to the N95s. It really just comes down to the construction of the mask and how well it fits against your face.”
In an email to The Daily Iowan, Jeneane Beck, assistant vice president for external relations, wrote that the UI follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when evaluating masks.
Lately, counterfeit masks have been spreading throughout the country, with the CDC reporting that about 60 percent of KN95 respirators the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health evaluated during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 did not meet their requirements.
Deborah Zumbach, associate vice president and director of parking and transportation and business services at the UI, wrote in a statement to the DI that the university requests authenticity documentation before making purchases, including the distributed masks.
“The university is fortunate to have an experienced team making regular purchases for a large academic medical center,” Zumbach wrote. “This results in business relationships with a variety of reliable vendors and suppliers in the United States. When making any purchase, the team requests all available documentation regarding a product’s efficacy and authenticity.”
The KN95 masks that are being distributed are from the company Dayhelp. The Dayhelp website states that the masks are FDA Registered Class 1. However, the company is not listed on the CDC website as a NIOSH-approved manufacturer of N95 respirators.
According to the CDC, surgical masks are loose-fitting, disposable, and create a physical barrier between the nose and the mouth of the wearer. These masks, however, may not provide as much protection compared to a KN95 mask.
“While a surgical mask may be effective in blocking splashes and large-particle droplets, it does not filter or block very small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes, or certain medical procedures,” the CDC website states. “Surgical masks also do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants because of the loose fit.”
Dan Diekema, professor of internal medicine and associate hospital epidemiologist, said in a recent post on the UI Hospitals and Clinics’ website that he recommends people wear a medical-grade mask, whether it is a surgical, KN95, or N95 mask.
“We also consider unfitted N95s and KN95s to be equivalent to a medical-grade mask because they fit snugly against the face, allowing for fewer particles to break through,” Diekema said. “The most important thing is the fit to the face to protect the person wearing the mask, as well as others.”
EHSRC Deputy Director, Dr. Peter Thorne, was featured in the Fall 2021 edition of the College of Public Health Magazine, InSight. He talked with CPH Communications Director, Dan McMillan, about the challenges of Climate Change. View a PDF of the interview by clicking on the image below.
EHSRC Director Dr. Hans-Joachim Lehmler was presented the 2021 John Doull Award at the annual Central States Society of Toxicology (CSSOT) Meeting, held virtually this year. As part of the award ceremony, Dr. Lehmler delivered a presentation titled, “PCB metabolism and neurotoxicity: highlights from a transatlantic journey.”
The John Doull award is presented each year by the CSSOT to honor the contributions of its members to the discipline of toxicology and the chapter. Each year there is a call for nominations prior to the Fall meeting. The winner of the award receives a medal.
Lehmler joined the University of Iowa in 2003 and currently leads a productive chemical toxicology laboratory linking the metabolism of current and emerging environmental contaminants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, and environmental bisphenols, to their adverse health effects. He is internationally recognized for his studies on the disposition and toxicity of chiral PCBs. His current NIEHS-funded research employs novel animal models, including germ-free mice, transgenic animals, and population-based animal models, to characterize how the metabolism of chemical hazards affects toxic outcomes.
Dr. Lehmler serves as the Director of the NIEHS-funded Environmental Health Sciences Research Center (EHSRC) at the University of Iowa. In addition to his role as EHSRC Director, Dr. Lehmler is among the leadership team of the Exposure Science Facility and serves as the director of the Career Development Program of the EHSRC.
He also is the Deputy Director of the Iowa Superfund Research Program. Under this program, Dr. Lehmler leads a new Research Project investigating the neurotoxicity of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in adolescence. This Research Project brings together a multidisciplinary research team to study how local PCB metabolism in the brain affects neurotoxic outcomes in an adolescent rat model. Dr. Lehmler also leads the Synthesis Core of the Iowa Superfund Research Program and is a member of the leadership team of the Analytical Core.
He serves as Academic Editor of PLOSone and on NIH and DoD grant review panels. In addition, he is actively involved in the Central States Chapter of the Society of Toxicology and previously served as the Chapter’s secretary/treasurer for six years.
Since 2011, researchers and educators at nearly every college and university in Iowa have produced annual statements to communicate in plain language the state of climate science and the impacts of climate change on Iowans. This process has been open to all of our state’s academic climate experts to ensure that our statements are factual. Climate change has been measured, and the integrity of the measurements has been accepted through review by thousands of scientists worldwide.
For more information about the 2021 statement view the full article on Iowa Environmental Focus
A recent publication by EHSRC member Dr. Ashutosh Mangalam’s group was featured as an E-Factor Paper of the Month NIEHS Environmental Factor Newsletter as a Paper of the Month! The E-Factor Papers of the Month highlight the highest impact and most innovative research funded by NIEHS. Congratulations to the authors!
Citation: Jensen SN, Cady NM, Shahi SK, Peterson SR, Gupta A, Gibson-Corley KN, Mangalam AK. 2021. Isoflavone diet ameliorates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis through modulation of gut bacteria depleted in patients with multiple sclerosis. Sci Adv 7(28):eabd4595.
As written in Environmental Factor Newsletter:
Combination of a plant-based diet and specific gut microbes may protect against multiple sclerosis
A new NIEHS-funded study in mice showed that a diet rich in the plant-based compound isoflavone may protect against multiple sclerosis (MS). The isoflavone diet was only protective when the mice had gut microbes capable of breaking down isoflavones. MS is a disease in which the immune system attacks nerves in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in muscle weakness and loss of balance or coordination.
The researchers fed mice with MS characteristics an isoflavone-rich or isoflavone-free diet for six weeks. They measured levels of inflammatory cells in the brain and spinal cord, a hallmark of MS, and characterized the makeup of the gut microbiome.
Mice fed an isoflavone-free diet had more severe disease, with greater numbers of inflammatory cells in the brain and spinal cord, than mice fed isoflavone-rich diets. Isoflavone-free mice lacked isoflavone-metabolizing gut bacteria, which were abundant in mice fed the plant-based compounds. When the researchers fed mice isoflavones but removed isoflavone-metabolizing bacteria, the diet no longer protected against MS-like symptoms. When the bacteria were restored, the protective effect of the isoflavone diet returned. Furthermore, the researchers showed that isoflavone-free mice given equol, a metabolite produced when gut bacteria breakdown isoflavone, were also protected against MS.
Results suggest that the development and severity of MS is influenced by both diet and the makeup of the gut microbiome. According to the authors, results can inform therapies for patients with MS.
The EHSRC Community Engagement Core is hosting two Science Cafes in September. Both events are focused on the issue of Climate Change and feature members of the EHSRC, Dr. Jerald Schnoor and Dr. Peter Thorne. See below for more info and to register! If you would like to request accessibility accommodations please email Jacqueline-Curnick@uiowa.edu
“Climate Change and the Looming COP26 Glasgow Meeting”
Dr. Jerald Schnoor
Wednesday, September 15th, 5-6 PM
On the lawn of the First St. Community Center
Mt. Vernon, IA
“Climageddon: Dire Predictions from the IPCC”
Dr. Peter Thorne
Tuesday, September 21st, 7-8 PM
Peter Thorne, Deputy Director of the EHSRC, has been named to the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The appointment was announced Aug. 2 by EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
“This highly qualified, diverse group of experts will ensure that EPA is receiving sound science-based advice to inform our work to protect people and the environment from pollution,” Regan said in a statement. “We worked expeditiously and deliberately to finalize the new Science Advisory Board, and now we can move forward knowing EPA’s work is guided by the most credible, independent expertise.”
Thorne joins 46 other members of the board, which provides scientific advice to the administrator, including reviewing the quality and relevance of information used by EPA or proposed as the basis for regulations, reviewing agency research programs and plans, and providing scientific advice as requested.
“I am excited to be serving as a science advisor to the EPA at a time when major decisions will be made regarding climate change mitigation and adaptation, the transition to sustainable energy systems, and the reduction of toxicant exposures in environmental justice communities.”
Thorne previously served on the SAB from 2011 to 2017, including a two-year term as SAB Chair from 2015 to 2017.
This article was originally posted here: https://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/news-items/thorne-appointed-to-epa-scientific-advisory-board/
Data Management in the Environmental Health Sciences Seminar Series
September 10, 2021 / 10:45 a.m. / View presentation slides
Ontologies 101: Standardize your data using ontologies
Nicole Vasilevsky, PhD, Research Assistant Professor and Lead Biocurator, The Translational and Integrative Science Center
Ontologies are powerful tools that are used for classifying information, organizing data, and creating connections between data that allow for enhanced information retrieval, filtering, and analysis. This talk will introduce the basic concepts of ontologies, with a focus on biomedical ontologies, and provide some examples of how ontologies are used in everyday life and disease diagnostics and discuss how you can contribute to ontologies and participate in the biomedical ontology community.
September 17, 2021 / 10:45 a.m. / View presentation slides
Using ontologies and knowledge graphs to link multi-modal data across scales and disciplines
Anne Thessen, PhD Semantic Engineer, The Translational and Integrative Science Center
Biology is a very heterogeneous discipline that has benefitted from the reductionist empirical approaches that have spawned thousands of subdisciplines, from neurobiology to landscape ecology, each with its own data types and research cultures. While we have learned much by isolating and experimenting on individual components of natural systems, there is much to be gained from looking at systems more holistically, which requires data integration at an unprecedented scale. In addition, these holistic approaches require expertise and data from outside biology, such as geology, computer science, and economics to name a few. This talk will present methodologies for integrating multi-modal data across disciplines to enable large-scale, holistic studies of natural systems and discuss the team science aspects of this work in the context of the GenoPhenoEnvo and Biomedical Data Translator project.
September 24, 2021 / 10:45 a.m.
Title US-EPA Chemicals Dashboard – An integrated data hub for environmental science
Antony Williams, PhD, Scientist at Center of Computational Toxicology and Exposure at US Environmental Protection Agency
Abstract: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Computational Toxicology Program utilizes computational and data-driven approaches that integrate chemistry, exposure and biological data to help characterize potential risks from chemical exposure. The National Center for Computational Toxicology (NCCT) has measured, assembled and delivered an enormous quantity and diversity of data for the environmental sciences, including high-throughput in vitro screening data, in vivo and functional use data, exposure models and chemical databases with associated properties. The CompTox Chemicals Dashboard website provides access to data associated with ~900,000 chemical substances. New data are added on an ongoing basis, including the registration of new and emerging chemicals, data extracted from the literature, chemicals studied in our labs, and data of interest to specific research projects at the EPA. Hazard and exposure data have been assembled from a large number of public databases and as a result the dashboard surfaces hundreds of thousands of data points. Other data includes experimental and predicted physicochemical property data, in vitro bioassay data and millions of chemical identifiers (names and CAS Registry Numbers) to facilitate searching. Other integrated modules include real-time physicochemical and toxicity endpoint prediction and an integrated search to PubMed. This presentation will provide an overview of the CompTox Chemicals Dashboard and how it has developed into an integrated data hub for environmental data. This abstract does not necessarily represent the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
October 1, 2021 / 10:45 a.m.
Improving alternative method adoption through tools and resources to support community knowledge
Shannon Bell, PhD, Principal Data Scientist at Integrated Laboratory Systems, Inc. (ILS), Apex, North Carolina
Over the past decade, efforts ranging from publications to workshops to science policy have been directed at moving from traditional, animal-based toxicity testing towards new approach methodologies (NAMs) that do not require animals. Key barriers hindering adoption of NAMs are knowledge gaps, both in terms of technical information deficiencies as well as lack of confidence in the methodologies. Information, comprised of data and the context within which it is used, is constantly evolving, and is typically a focal point when considering knowledge gaps. Efforts using standardized terminologies and improving data FAIRness (data should be findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) aid in addressing information challenges. Improving acceptance of information and methods/tools generating the data are equally important and increasing access to resources that promote approachability and transparency can support confidence building in end-users. This can be done by creating user-friendly tools that provide an access point for diverse users to explore data and techniques. These user-friendly resources build comfort and context that aids in bridging the communication gap between naive users often “traditionally” trained in in vivo approaches and subject matter experts in the NAMs. This presentation will highlight the DNTP’s Integrated Chemical Environment and other freely available web resources to illustrate ways in which knowledge gaps for NAM adoption are being addressed. Three common questions will be addressed as part of an overarching user story: How do I identify and obtain data for my compound? How can I put this data into a relevant context? How do I interpret and apply the data? Structure similarity, read-across, and in vitro to in vivo extrapolation will be discussed as a series of user-stories highlighting efforts of web-based tools to promote NAM adoption by closing knowledge gaps.
October 8, 2021 / 10:45 a.m.
Building a Better Tox Test: Reproducibility and Sampling Error in
Lyle Burgoon, PhD, Director, Center for Existential Threat Analysis and Leader, Bioinformatics and Computational Toxicology, Michigan State University
Most current computational toxicology predictive models require toxicology data from laboratory experiments. Although not always apparent, the predictions from these computational models can have significant ramifications. For instance, a combatant commander in the Army may require soldiers to put on MOPS gear (suits that protect soldiers from chemical exposures) during a battle based on toxicity predictions that use current environmental levels from sensors as inputs. The problem is that MOPS gear is difficult to move and fight in, thus making our soldiers easier targets. It also means that taxpayer money may be wasted on needless and unnecessary remediation of training grounds. I have noticed that the reproducibility of toxicology data that go into our computational models tend to suffer from being underpowered, exhibiting excessive sampling error, and lack the details required for reproducibility. In many cases, chemicals are being found toxic based only on p-values, which the American Statistical Association considers a very poor practice. In this talk, I will discuss and demonstrate the problems with sampling error and reproducibility that I am seeing both as a regulatory toxicologist and a military scientist. I will discuss how we can do better as a toxicology community, to improve our science, and the reproducibility of our studies. And I will demonstrate why these steps are necessary for ensuring the quality of our future computational toxicology models, and for safeguarding human health. There are real-world consequences when we fail to practice science well, and together, we can make a difference.
Each year in Iowa, the American Lung Association and the Iowa Department of Public Health, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7 and the Iowa Radon Coalition host the annual statewide Iowa Radon Poster and Video Contests.
Iowa citizens ages 9-14 are invited to create a radon poster that will increase public awareness of radon gas and encourage others to test their homes. A committee will select the top five winning posters from throughout the entire state of Iowa to receive monetary prizes. The school that submits the most entries wins $200.
Concurrently, high school students are invited to submit entries to the Iowa Radon Video Contest, for which three top prizes are awarded. As a member of the Iowa Radon Coalition, EHSRC Coordinator Nancy Wyland has participated in judging this event for the past three years in representation of the Center.
“The submissions are quite creative, and the students work hard on their entries,” Ms. Wyland offered. It’s a great event that engages young adults in environmental awareness and the dangers of radon, which is particularly prevalent in Iowa.”
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas produced by the natural decay of uranium in the soil. Exposure to elevated radon levels increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is the number one cause of death in homes, surpassing falls, poisoning, fires, choking, and drowning. As all Iowa counties are considered at high risk, this contest provides an opportunity to educate Iowa youth and the general public. By participating in this activity, students learn about radon and how to reduce their risk of exposure.
Wyland added, “Our Center has a longstanding research interest in radon and its environmental health impacts, so we’re proud to participate in this educational activity through our membership in the Iowa Radon Coalition.”
Poster Contest Winners can be viewed here: https://www.lung.org/local-content/ia/radon-poster
The Top Ten Video Contest Winners can be viewed here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsIpNVMVEwiiT0UM6ax1cHFBVWkAD65G2
The EHSRC has a longstanding history of radon research, including studies of residential radon in Iowa, research on outdoor concentrations, and testing of monitoring devices. Recently, EHSRC Member Bill Field and Co-PI Ka Kahe (Columbia University Health Sciences) received an NIH R01 titled, “Residential radon exposure and stroke risk: the REGARDS study.” This project will examine the association between radon exposure and stroke risk and to investigate whether geographic variation of radon concentration is related to the distribution of stroke rate in the U.S.
EHSRC Deputy Director Dr. Peter Thorne was a guest on the show River to River to discuss restoring environmental protections and the race against climate change. Listen to the interview here.
Blurb from Iowa Public Radio:
“President Joe Biden has vowed to restore environmental protections that have been weakened, altered or rolled back by the Trump Administration over the past four years.
The new president has ordered a review of more than 100 rules and regulations on air, water, public lands, endangered species and climate change and legal experts say it could take two to three years, or even longer, to put many of the old rules back in place.
On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with environmental health scientist Peter Thorne to talk about stances the new administration is taking when it comes to environmental policy. Thorne chaired the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board from 2015 to 2017.”
Phd Candidate Derek Simonsen explains the work that goes on in Dr. Hans Lehmler’s lab and the Exposure Science Facility. Watch it now!
The College of Public Health’s Distinguished Faculty Lecture will take place on December 2, 2020, from 12:30-1:30 P.M. This year’s lecture will be given by EHSRC member, Dr. Fred Gerr, and will provide an overview of historical and current occupational injury and illnesses among meat packing plant workers.
Dr. Gerr has served as a professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health for the last 18 years. He has been the director of both the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health and the Occupational Medicine Residency Training Program in CPH for many years. He has taught Occupational Health Practice, Occupational Medicine, and Interpreting Occupational Health Research. His research focuses on occupational and environmental risk factors for neurological impairment and musculoskeletal disorders. He has made significant contributions in the specialty of occupational and environmental medicine.
2020 CPH Distinguished Faculty Lecture | December 2 at 12:30 P.M.
Dr. Brandi Janssen, Director of the EHSRC Community Engagement Core, collaborated with colleagues at Emory, University of North Carolina, and University of New Mexico to publish a paper about reporting back to communities. It was featured as a paper of the month on the NIEHS Environmental Factor newsletter. See write up below:
NIEHS grantees developed a framework and set of recommendations to help environmental health researchers return research results to study participants, a process called result report-back. According to the authors, report-back has the potential to improve environmental health education and communication and overall public health. Despite strong recommendations for report-back, researchers share results with study participants infrequently and inconsistently, the authors said.
To create the framework, the researchers used feedback from 35 community engagement practitioners who participated in a workshop at the 2018 NIEHS Partnerships for Environmental Public Health Annual Meeting. Workshop attendees responded to the prompt: “What are some specific issues that are relevant to reporting back research results to individuals or the larger community?” Participants then grouped similar responses and rated groups by importance to successful result report-back. The researchers used qualitative and quantitative methods to create a framework, called a concept map, to visualize relationships between responses.
Five themes emerged from this process. Listed from most to least important, the themes were: effective communication strategies, community knowledge and concerns, uncertainty, empowering action, and institutional review and oversight. Engaging community partners in the process of result report-back emerged as a unifying global theme. The researchers further examined responses and made recommendations to address challenges within and across themes.
Environmental health researchers and practitioners should address these five specific themes when planning and implementing their result report-back activities, say the authors.
Citation: Lebow-Skelley E, Yelton S, Janssen B, Erdei E, Pearson MA. 2020. Identifying issues and priorities in reporting back environmental health data. Int J Environ Res Public Health 17(18):6742.
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.