November 12, 2020

Author: Lyndsi Lewis

In the beginning, before the “Two-Leggeds” walked the Earth, creator came and asked who would help take care of them. The first to come forward were the Salmon. The relationship between salmon and Native People in the Pacific Northwest goes back to the beginning of time.  People take care of the land and the water so that the animals and the fish can live and remain healthy, and the animals and the fish then take care of the people by feeding them and providing nourishment. Have we come to a point where we have polluted the land so much that the fish are now polluting us?

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Author(s): Christine Ghetu, Diana Rohlman, Kim Anderson

When a wildfire breaks out public health recommendations are to stay indoors and close all windows, but is that the best advice? Toxicology researchers at Oregon State University are very interested in understanding the effect of wildfires on indoor and outdoor air quality. Dr. Kim Anderson and her team have been collecting samples before, during and after wildfires in the Pacific Northwest using community-engaged research for the last three years to help improve public health recommendations.

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OSU Disaster Research Highlighted at Upcoming NIEHS Community-Based Participatory Research Workshop in India | February 26-28, 2019. New Delhi, India

Workshop Agenda available here: https://www.pria.org/event_details.php?id=26&evtid=465

The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences recently released their new strategic plan. Three dominant themes emerged:

  1. Advancing Environmental Health Sciences
  2. Promoting Translation – Data to Knowledge to Action
  3. Enhancing Environmental Health Sciences through stewardship and support.

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The article, “Environmental and individual PAH exposures near rural natural gas extraction” was recently published online. It isn’t uncommon for our researchers to publish the results of their work in scholarly journals. You can see we have been busily writing articles for years! This article however, is somewhat special. When we began this work, we committed to returning all the data, both environmental air sampling data and personal wristband sampling, back to the participants. That’s a big undertaking. We didn’t want to just hand over confusing charts and color-coded Excel files; we wanted to provide data that was useful and relevant to people. It’s important to us that we get it right. We’ve held focus groups and worked with community liaisons to figure out how we can do just that.

Even while the article was under review, we worked with the team of scientists that performed the research as well as computer programmers, data visualizers and community engagement & research translation experts to develop reports that detailed why the research was done, what was found, and the public health relevance of that research. The data was contextualized for every person – our computer programmer built codes to ensure that every single person received a personalized report. The reports were reviewed internally at Oregon State University and the University of Cincinnati, and externally by community liaisons.

The Research Translation Core provided materials relevant to PAHs (the focus of the study) and helped craft the reports.

So when our article was published, it didn’t just represent a contribution to the existing body of literature; it also represented over 30 personalized reports being mailed out to the individuals that not only participated in our study, but helped drive the research forward.

 

 

Dr. Diana Rohlman (Research Translation Core) was invited to speak at the 2018 Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists Annual National Disaster Epidemiology Workshop in Atlanta, GA.

She discussed her collaborative work with Dr. Kim Anderson in designing a disaster response IRB, allowing rapid response in the event of a disaster. This IRB was activated following Hurricane Harvey, and shared with the University of Texas – Houston, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas A&M, allowing those three schools to receive disaster-specific IRBs as well. In addition, Dr. Rohlman highlighted the on-going work being done in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, using the passive wristband samplers. Dr. Kim Anderson is working with Baylor College of Medicine and UT-Houston to collect information from over 200 individuals living in the Houston area that were impacted by the extreme flooding. A total of 13 Superfund sites were flooded. Dr. Anderson’s analytic methods can detect up to 1,550 different chemicals in the wristband. This information will be reported back to the impacted communities, and is hoped to provide important information for future disasters to prevent or mitigate chemical exposures.

What is CSTE?

CSTE is an organization of member states and territories representing public health epidemiologists. CSTE works to establish more effective relationships among state and other health agencies. It also provides technical advice and assistance to partner organizations and to federal public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CSTE members have surveillance and epidemiology expertise in a broad range of areas including occupational health, infectious diseases, environmental health, chronic diseases, injury, maternal and child health, and more. CSTE supports effective public health surveillance and sound epidemiologic practice through training, capacity development, and peer consultation.

CSTE Disaster Epidemiology sub-committee:

The Disaster Epidemiology Subcommittee brings together epidemiologists from across subject disciplines to share best practices and collaborate on epidemiologic approaches towards improving all-hazard disaster preparedness and response capacities at local, state, Tribal, regional, and national levels. It is critical to use epidemiologic principles, emergency preparedness planning, and a coordinated disaster response for describing the distribution of injuries, illnesses, and disabilities; rapidly detecting outbreaks or clusters; identifying and implementing timely interventions; evaluating the impacts of public health efforts; and improving public health preparedness planning.