Health concerns prompt calls to end production and use of deadly substance in the U.S. and beyond
Health concerns prompt calls to end production and use of deadly substance in the U.S. and beyond
Dr. Marilyn Howarth, director of the Community Outreach and Engagement Core for Penn’s Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, has been working local communities to determine their exposomes and help them figure out what to do about it.
Sandy Bauers/ The Philadelphia Inquirer / February 3, 2017
Title “Inhaled Endotoxin and Asthma: The Amish and the Rest of Us”
Professor and Head, Occupational & Environmental Health
University of Iowa
EHSRC Center Director; Director, Pulmonary Toxicology Facility; Director, Nanotoxicology Research Core;
Co-Director, Community Outreach and Engagement; Environmental Disease and Population Research; Inflammation and Innate Immunity
The experts in Penn’s Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology seek the facts that are essential for decisions that affect our environment.
By Mark Overton / PENN Medicine Magazine/ Fall 2015
NIEHS report Advancing Environmental Justice describes the NIEHS efforts to reduce environmental health disparities and promote environmental justice over the past two decades. A project of CEET Investigator Edward Emmett, MD – The Little Hocking That Could: Community Exposure to Perfluorooctanoate – was highlighted.
Judith Green-McKenzie, MD, MPH, an associate professor of Emergency Medicine, member of the CEET Community Outreach and Engagement Core, and chief of the division of Occupational Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, was awarded the 2015 Kehoe Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Education or Researcher from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) in May at the group’s 2015 conference in Baltimore, Md.
The award, named after occupational medicine pioneer and past ACOEM president Robert A. Kehoe, MD, is given each year to an individual who has made significant contributions to academic excellence or research in the fields of occupational or environmental medicine. Green-McKenzie was recognized for her leadership as director of Penn Medicine’s Occupational Medicine residency program. Her tireless work resulted in a train-in-place program, which is an innovative model for post-graduate education.
Her research focuses on outcomes in Occupational Medicine, especially in the areas of blood borne pathogen exposures, workers’ compensation costs and residency education, and has been published by journals including The Journal for Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, Green-McKenzie received her medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine and her master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.
ACOEM is an international group of 5,000 occupational physicians and provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces and environments.
Philadelphia, June 12, 2015. Penn Medicine News Release.
PHILADELPHIA – The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has renewed its funding to the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET), at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, for the next five years. This grant will continue CEET’s work serving the environmental health needs of southeastern Pennsylvania, building on ten years of excellence in environmental health research at Penn. The new grant totals over $8.0 million. CEET was established in 2004 with a four-year, $4.1 million grant from NIEHS to study the effects of environmental pollutants on human health.
CEET is one of only 20 designated Environmental Health Science Core Centers in the United States and the first in Pennsylvania. It is a partnership between research scientists and communities, and its main charge is to better understand how environmental exposures lead to disease. Understanding these processes can lead to early diagnosis, intervention, and prevention strategies.
“This new award allows us to continue to build environmental health research at Penn so that we remain an elite, competitive institution in this area,” says Trevor Penning, PhD, CEET director and professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics.
“The synergistic combination of basic and clinician-scientists allows CEET to conduct high-impact, translational environmental health sciences research,” added Reynold Panettieri, MD, CEET deputy director and professor of Pulmonary Medicine. “This award will allow for better studies in environmental health science and designing precision therapy for vulnerable individuals.”
Through CEET’s Community Outreach and Engagement Core, environmental health questions raised by the community are translated into research questions to be addressed by CEET investigator teams. Using this approach, CEET supports the Penn Superfund Research Center, which studies the remediation, transport, and fate of asbestos at the BoRIT superfund site in West Ambler, Pa.; and mechanisms of how asbestos mediates its adverse health effects including mesothelioma.
Using similar approaches, CEET investigators are also tackling the health consequences of hydraulic fracturing and the impact of urban air pollution in Philadelphia.
Overall, CEET provides the tools for faculty to conduct cutting-edge environmental health research by maintaining the following assets:
Do people still care about the environment? Is Earth Day still relevant? We no longer see thousands of protestors in the street like we did in the 70’s during the first few Earth Days. Perhaps in this digitally connected time, people show that they care differently. Penn’s Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology researches environmental health questions. We asked Philadelphians about what topics in Environmental Health they thought we should be researching. We received over a hundred different recommendations from over a thousand people. We are convinced; people do care about the environment and the impact of the environment on their health and the health of our planet. People are practicing the core principles of Earth Day when they select organic fruits at the market, work toward environmental justice in their communities, question health effects of chemicals contained in personal care products, sit on a zoning board determining how close a school should be to a highway, or participate on a Community Advisory Board for a Superfund Site. Good research yields the science that informs the decisions we make for our personal and community environmental health. Thanks to the efforts of those who so actively advocated for the environment 45 years ago leading to the first Earth Day, we have had the privilege to conduct research answering key environmental health questions which lead to informed decisions and good public policy. Science has informed policy leading to better air quality and cleaner bodies of water throughout the US. Research has shown that some of the initial steps that were taken to improve environmental health are not adequate to address all of the impacts. Soils in cities around the country have remnants of the industry that was once there like lead, mercury, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and other chemicals. There are emerging threats to our drinking water supply from the myriad of personal care products and medications that go into waste water that are not removed by our waste water treatment plants. The air that we breathe still contains unhealthy particulate, ozone and toxic chemicals in many places.
New questions have been raised like: Can what I eat change the way my genes are expressed in my children? How do the multiple exposures that I have every day combine to affect me? What are the environmental health impacts of newer methods of energy extraction? How will we have clean drinking water when our waste water treatment plants are not equipped to remove medications? What ongoing impacts to health will exposure to the waste of prior industrial processes have? Although we have learned much and made great progress since the first Earth Day, now more than ever we must rely on science to take the next steps and answer the questions of our time. Please contact us if you would like to hear more about our efforts or have community environmental problems that we might help with.
Marilyn Howarth, MD
Director, CEET Community Outreach and Engagement Core
Alain Kilajian, a graduating senior in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, has been awarded the 2015-2016 Fulbright Student Research Grant to pursue environmental work in Thailand. As a prior Short Term Educational Experiences for Research in Environmental Science (STEER) Program scholar, he has always had a deep interest in environmental issues, especially, surrounding issues of global environmental justice. In Thailand, he plans to work with a small agricultural community facing potential risks from a nearby mine. His project combines environmental science, social science and community development. There he will gather and test soil and water samples, create a user friendly GIS map of the region and present a socio-economic profile of the community. His goal is to provide the community with the information and tools they need to be able to make an informed decision concerning the future of their land and community.
Kaitlyn Meirs, MPH, Academic Coordinator of our Community Outreach and Engagement Core, presented a poster at the Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association that received first place in the Environment Section Student Poster category. The poster – Investigatory Research on the Distribution and Accessibility of Physicians with Environmental Expertise in the Gulf of Mexico – was chosen from over five hundred total submissions. Congratulations Kati!