A Glimpse of Fellows’ Recent Publications, Summer 2023

Following Hurricane María in 2017, which disrupted water services for a substantial portion of Puerto Rican households due to infrastructure failures, families adopted self-organized coping strategies, including water sharing. This study, conducted by Anais Roque et.al. in three Puerto Rican municipalities, shows that an impressive 85% of households engaged in extensive water sharing, even in previously secure areas. These sharing networks were primarily based on kin and neighbors, with women having broader connections. The research highlights the critical role of water-sharing networks in disaster response and suggests their incorporation into disaster preparedness plans.

Yoshira Ornelas assesses the impact of the Gold King Mine Spill (GKMS) on Navajo Nation’s exposure to arsenic and lead. Her study focuses on unique exposure pathways, including recreational, cultural, and dietary activities. The assessment emphasizes the need to consider community-specific pathways in post-disaster risk analysis.

Researchers included Stephanie Eick observed that a mixture of phthalates and psychosocial stress (racial discrimination, gendered racial stress, depression, anxiety) was associated with a reduction in fetal growth among African American women in Atlanta. The association was stronger when consider phthalates and stress together, as opposed to phthalates alone or stress alone. Full article here.

Ruzmin Vilcassim emphasizes in his last publication the ongoing global health threat of air pollution, especially PM2.5, with over 6 million prematurecardiovascular and respiratory deaths yearly attributed to household andoutdoor air pollution. The study identifies gaps in monitoring and regulationand proposes stronger mitigation policies, highlighting the significance ofportable technologies, a submicron (PM1) air quality standard, and furtherevaluations of particle composition and sources.

Buffalo, NY, once known as the City of Trees, now stands at the crossroads of change, presenting an opportunity for reparative environmental justice. Brace yourself for a compelling journey that intertwines active living injustices with broader societal issues. In this article, Jennifer D. Roberts explores the reality faced by countless other cities, shedding light on the urgent need for transformative action!

The article titled “A Collaborative Approach to Address Racism in a Community–Academic Partnership,” authored by Christina Fuller, and other collaborators, discusses Emory University’s HERCULES Exposome Research Center’s efforts to combat racism and promote equity in research collaborations.

Christina Fuller emphasizes the critical need for increased research and data collection on air pollution in Africa due to its severe health impact, especially in regions with limited air quality monitoring and data, in this article as part of the Special IJERPH Issue Air Pollution in Africa and the African Diaspora. 

Increasing sea level rise and heavy precipitation events are elevating the risk of coastal flooding and the release of toxic chemicals from hazardous sites, particularly in low-income communities of color in California, according to research by Lara Cushing et.al. , underscoring the urgency for further studies and disaster planning that address these differential hazards and health risks associated with sea level rise. Full article here.

Research from Leah Schinasi reveals that increasing temperatures may heighten the risk of both accidental and deliberate injuries among children and young adults, with the most significant effects seen in 5–9-year-olds for unintentional injuries and 20–25-year-olds for intentional injuries. This underscores the importance of educating parents and children about injury prevention during hot weather.

Leah Schinasi et.al. found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, more frequent use of greenspaces was associated with modest protective effects on mental and physical health, highlighting the potential benefits of greenspace engagement during times of stress. Full article here.

Colleen Reid was involved in a study that investigated the impact of the 2021 Marshall Fire in Colorado on indoor air quality in homes within the fire perimeter that survived the blaze. The study revealed elevated levels of hazardous substances, such as levoglucosan, toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and metals in indoor dust, which could pose health risks due to potential resuspension into the air. The study also found that indoor airborne particulate concentrations were influenced by human activities, such as cleaning.

Social Drivers of Mental Health: A U.S. Study Using Machine Learning: This study employed a machine learning approach to identify and rank social drivers of mental health across census tracts in the U.S. Self-reported depression and self-assessed poor mental health differed in major social drivers. The two outcome indicators had one overlapping correlate from the behavioral domain: smoking. Other than smoking, climate zone and racial composition were the leading correlates from the environmental and social domains, respectively. Census tract characteristics moderated the impacts of social drivers on mental health problems; the major social drivers differed by census tract poverty and racial segregation. Learn more about Betty Lin’s research.

Childhood maltreatment is associated with a variety of health outcomes across an individual’s lifespan and may have intergenerational consequences as well. Betty Lin et. al. study is among the first to investigate maternal co-regulatory behaviors (i.e., sensitivity) as a potential mechanism through which maternal exposure to childhood maltreatment may influence infant health concerns. Results suggest that both maternal childhood maltreatment history and sensitivity may shape infant outcomes before 24 weeks of age. Increasing understanding of the mechanisms through which maternal childhood maltreatment may exert cascades of influence on infant health may help to inform the development of early intervention services.

Betty Lin et. al. completed a review evaluating racial differences in various indicators of sympathetic nervous system activity. Our review reveals that Black participants have consistently been found to display lower resting EDA compared to White participants. The few studies that have investigated or reported racial differences in PEP and sAA yield mixed findings about whether racial differences exist. We discuss potential reasons for racial differences in SNS activity, such as index-specific factors, lab confounds, psychosocial environmental factors, and their interactions. We outline a framework characterizing possible contributors to racial differences in SNS functioning. Lastly, we highlight the implications of several definitional, analytic, and interpretive issues concerning the treatment of group differences in psychophysiological activity and provide future recommendations.

Chandra Jackson et. al. study in the United States found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, financial hardship was associated with an increased risk of sleep disturbances, and this relationship was particularly pronounced among certain minority racial-ethnic groups, especially Black/African American adults, suggesting that addressing financial insecurity could help reduce sleep health disparities. Full article here.

This study examined the relationship between exposure to light at night (LAN) and various aspects of sleep health in a large group of women. The findings indicate that sleeping with a TV on in the bedroom is associated with a higher prevalence of poor sleep, including short sleep duration, inconsistent sleep patterns, sleep debt, and an overall poor sleep score. Additionally, Chandra Jackson et. al. study suggests that non-Hispanic Black women may be more affected by this association than non-Hispanic white women.

Chandra Jackson et. al. study examined the relationship between food security and sleep health in a racially and ethnically diverse population using National Health Interview Survey data. It found that individuals with very low food security were more likely to experience very short sleep duration and trouble falling asleep compared to those with high food security. These associations were more pronounced among Asian and non-Hispanic White participants compared to non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic/Latinx participants. Full article here.

Chunrong Jia study compared two types of tubes used for monitoring air pollution, specifically polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can have health impacts. The study found that both types of tubes performed well for lighter PAHs, but there was more uncertainty in the measurements for heavier PAHs. Overall, more research is needed to improve the accuracy of monitoring heavy PAHs in the air.

Chunrong Jia study aimed to understand the spatial and temporal variability in air pollution, specifically focusing on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), in a metropolitan area. It found that the total variance in PAH concentrations was divided into spatial (16%) and temporal (84%) components, with further divisions related to urbanicity, site, season, and within-season variations. The study also highlighted the importance of quality control in sample collection and the need for repeated sampling across seasons and time points within a season for accurate assessment. Full article.