A Glimpse of Fellows’ Recent Publications, Spring 2024

Despite improvements in water access, over two billion people lack safe drinking water. Katherine Alfredo’s study shows that while taste thresholds for chlorine in rural Indigenous Ngäbe and Latino Panamanians are higher than recommended levels, taste aversion is not a major barrier to adopting chlorinated water in these communities.

In recognition of the importance of ethics in environmental epidemiology, Ethics Guidelines were established in 1996 and adopted by the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology in 1999. Revised in 2012 and 2023 by authors including Michael Anastario, the guidelines cover obligations to research participants, society, funders, and colleagues, aiming to uphold transparency and accountability in the field.

Max Aung’s latest research on Hispanic youth shows that exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is linked to alterations in proteomic profiles, specifically affecting proteins related to inflammation, immunity, and oxidative stress. These findings offer insights into the potential molecular mechanisms underlying PFAS toxicity and its association with adverse cardiometabolic outcomes.

Max Aung’s study found that PFOS exposure is linked to decreased bone mineral density (BMD) change rates in Hispanic adolescents and lower BMD in mixed-ethnicity young adults. While PFAS mixture effects on BMD were mostly negative but non-significant, these findings support existing evidence and focus on a largely Hispanic population.

Gregory Bratman’s last paper discusses how atmospheric and ecological changes affect human well-being through the sense of smell. It emphasizes the importance of olfaction in various aspects of life and proposes a framework to integrate the olfactory pathway into understanding environmental effects on health, aiming to improve policy decisions for planetary health.

Stephanie Eick’s research highlights the impact of reproductive and social policies on maternal and child health, especially following the 2022 Dobbs decision restricting abortion access. The most affected are younger, non-white, socioeconomically disadvantaged women in states with limited safety net programs. These policies contribute to elevated stress and adverse birth outcomes, underscoring significant health equity issues.

Memo Cedeno’s latest publication investigates the long-term effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on the gut microbiota of adult nursing students. The study found that high-ACE individuals exhibited distinct gut microbiota profiles and reported higher depression and diarrhea prevalence. These findings emphasize the enduring impact of ACEs on gut health and underscore the need for targeted interventions for healthcare professionals.

MyDzung Chu’s research examines the impact of federal housing assistance on blood lead levels (BLLs) in a US sample. The study found that current recipients of HUD housing assistance had significantly lower BLLs compared to those on a pseudo-waitlist, with the strongest protective effects observed in public housing, multifamily housing, and non-Hispanic White recipients. These findings highlight the critical role of housing assistance in reducing lead exposure and emphasize the need for quality and equity in housing programs.

Diana Hernandez and her team’s study explores the correlation between perceived and objective greenspace abundance and visibility. While objective greenspace is less associated with access, usage, or quality, perceptions of greenspace exposure are higher among white, high SES participants. Additionally, environmental attitudes play a role in shaping perceptions of greenspace exposure.

Betty Lin’s study, the Birth and Beyond (BABY) study, investigates the social and environmental determinants of racial disparities in pregnancy-related health outcomes among Black birthing people and infants in the USA. By following 350 Black families from pregnancy through the first postpartum year, the study aims to identify risk and resiliency factors at both micro and macro levels that influence health outcomes, with a focus on psychobiological mechanisms and community supports.

This Na’Taki Jelks Osbourne‘s publication explores the integration of participatory science, social justice, and higher education in the United States, examining how instructors can teach about social justice and foster collaborations to enact social change, utilizing both large-scale databases and local-scale participatory science approaches developed through academic and community partnerships.

Colleen Reid recent study examines the relationship between perceived and objective greenspace abundance and visibility. While objective greenspace is less linked to access, usage, or quality, perceptions of greenspace exposure are higher among white, high SES participants. Environmental attitudes also influence perceptions of greenspace exposure.

This Courtney Roper‘s publication delves into the fusion of participatory science, social justice, and higher education in the United States, investigating strategies for educators to impart social justice concepts and cultivate partnerships to effect societal transformation, leveraging both extensive databases and grassroots participatory science initiatives forged through academic and community alliances.

This Leah Schinasi’s review examines the urgent issue of building overheating in the face of global climate change, focusing on its impacts on occupants’ health and socio-economic factors in the United States. It stresses the need for tailored interventions based on regional climates to address indoor overheating’s disproportionate effects, advocating for comprehensive policies to safeguard public health across diverse indoor environments.

Leah Schinasi‘s recent study examined how outdoor aeroallergen levels affect asthma exacerbation in children, comparing sensitized and nonsensitized groups. Sensitized children had higher odds of exacerbation when exposed to allergens like tree pollen and molds, indicating the importance of allergy testing for targeted interventions in asthma prevention.

Aaron Specht last paper explores the impact of lead exposure at different life stages on age at death. Findings show a negative association between lead exposure in childhood, adulthood, and late life with age at death, with adulthood exposure remaining significant even after accounting for earlier exposures. Additionally, it’s the first epidemiological study to investigate tooth cementum lead levels in relation to health outcomes, suggesting that measuring lead levels in different parts of teeth can provide insights into the overall health impact of lead exposure.