October 12th is Children’s Environmental Health Day

The Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) established Children’s
Environmental Health (CEH) Day in 2016, to be recognized every second Thursday of October. It
is a day for the children’s environmental health community to raise awareness of children’s
health issues, celebrate successes in the field, share exciting new initiatives, and discuss new
challenges and the road ahead.

Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) will host a one hour
Twitter chat on October 12 from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm ET (11:00 am -12:00 pm
PT), moderated by @CEHN. All are welcome to participate.

Folic acid may mitigate autism risk from pesticides

Researchers at UC Davis and other institutions have shown that mothers who take recommended amounts of folic acid around conception might reduce their children’s pesticide-related autism risk. In the study, children whose mothers took 800 or more micrograms of folic acid (the amount in most prenatal vitamins) had a significantly lower risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – even when their mothers were exposed to household or agricultural pesticides associated with increased risk. The study appears in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. “We found that if the mom was taking folic acid during the window around conception, the risk associated with pesticides seemed to be attenuated,” said Rebecca J. Schmidt, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and first author on the paper. “Mothers should try to avoid pesticides. But if they live near agriculture, where pesticides can blow in, this might be a way to counter those effects.” In the paper, which used data from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study, researchers looked at 296 children between 2 and 5 who had been diagnosed with ASD and 220 who had developed typically. Mothers were interviewed about their household pesticide exposure during pregnancy, as

Graduate Student Krista Haapanen Represents UC Davis at Annual PEPH Conference

On the 18th and 19th of this month, graduate student Krista Haapanen had the opportunity to represent UC Davis at “Engaging Diverse Partners: Strategies to Address Environmental Public Health,” a joint NIEHS meeting of the Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) network and Disaster Research Response (DR2) program. The meeting, which took place on the NIEHS campus in Durham, North Carolina, brought together scholars and advocates from across the country to focus on successful approaches for engaging with diverse partners.

In a series of presentations and small group discussions, participants discussed their unique experiences, opportunities, and challenges working with partners from Community-based and Environmental Justice Organizations, Educators, Healthcare Professionals, Tribal Communities, Decision Makers, and Workers. Liam O’Fallon, Director of the PEPH, placed particular emphasis on not only discussing past work, but also identifying next steps for advancing the NIEHS’ efforts to address environmental public health concerns.

UC Davis Toxicology Students Recommend Research on the Air We Breathe When Land Burns

How do fire-suppression chemicals and pesticides affect wildfire smoke and the health of those who breathe it? UC Davis graduate students discovered that this question cannot be answered based on current scientific evidence and, in a review published in Current Topics in Toxicology, they recommend more studies on the compounds in wildfire smoke.

What Does The Environment Have To Do With Autism? By Liza Gross

If you look just at the numbers, you might think autism rates are spiraling out of control. The rates seemed high enough at 1 in 150 in 2000, when public health officials started tracking a steady rise in the syndrome in the United States. And by the time estimates finally flatlined in 2012 at 1 in 68, many parents had embraced unfounded theories blaming vaccines for an autism “epidemic,” helping to fuel outbreaks of measles and other once rare diseases. Experts, however, attribute most of the upsurge to increased awareness, better access to services, and expanded criteria to diagnose the neurodevelopmental syndrome, which is characterized by restricted interests or behaviors and problems with communication and social interactions. Autism is remarkably diverse, encompassing a wide spectrum of disabilities and gifts. “If you’ve met one child with autism,” parents and clinicians like to say, “you’ve met one child with autism.” That heterogeneity, which also includes a range of physical ailments, has made the search for autism’s causes a daunting task. Continue reading the full article at Ensia

Judy Van de Water, PhD featured in Newsweek Magazine

More than a decade ago, Judy Van de Water, a neuroimmunologist, decided to follow her instincts and research a condition she knew nothing about. Van de Water, now a lead scientist at the University of California Davis MIND Institute—an international research center for neurodevelopmental disorders—had spent her career studying the immune system. In 2000, she stumbled upon a compelling area of research: the immunobiology of autism. Through studies on mice, rats and rhesus macaques and, eventually, retrospective and prospective analyses of children diagnosed with autism and their mothers, Van de Water identified eight autoantibodies made by a mother’s immune system that appeared to be linked with autism risk if they crossed the placenta. Van de Water, who is also a researcher in the department of internal medicine at UC Davis, refers to her discovery as maternal autoantibody-related autism, or MAR autism. The concept is controversial and became more so when Van de Water developed a test to measure those biomarkers in a woman hoping to conceive, thereby predicting her risk for having a child who develops autism. Continue reading by clicking here. (you will be taken to the online Newsweek article)

Pamela Lein, PhD – Co-Director, Career Development Program

Pam Lein’s interest in toxicology started when she was an environmental science major at Cornell University. She became fascinated with the poisonous plant garden at Cornell’s veterinary school where her father was a professor. “I decided to take a course in poisonous plants while I was there, and that is how I was introduced to the concept of toxicology,” says Dr. Lein. She began to see that many problems in society revolve around chemical effects on biological systems. To her, understanding “how chemicals modify biology and how that manifests at the organism level,” is a puzzle, and she loves puzzles.
Continue reading »

Building Equitable Partnerships

June 28th, 2017 marked this year’s first bi-annual meeting of the Environmental Health Sciences Center’s Community Stakeholder’s Advisory Committee (CSTAC). Attendees, which included both CSTAC members and EHSC researchers, traveled from throughout the Central Valley to UC Merced where they spent the day exchanging updates, welcoming new members, and discussing the dimensions of equitable community-university research partnerships.

Members of the Environmental Health Sciences Center’s CSTAC represent a range of community organizations and agencies that work to promote environmental health and justice. Their expertise covers a wide range of environmental issues including air, water, food, and agriculture, and they work with the EHSCC’s Community Engagement Core (CEC) to align the activities of the EHSC to the needs and interests of communities facing high burdens of environmental hazards and social vulnerability. At the June 12th meeting, the CSTAC welcomed four new members: Isabel Arrollo of El Quinto Sol de America; Nayamin Martinez of the Central California Environmental Justice Network; Amrith Gunasekara of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; and Veronica Eady of the California Air Resources Board.

Environmental Justice Coalition for Water

For the last five years, California’s drought has given rise to a host of water policies aiming to ensure that all Californians have access to clean drinking water. Despite these policies, however, injustice in water allocation remains a significant problem.
​    As of 2016, an estimated 39 million people live in the state of California. The majority of these people live in urban areas (approximately 87% in 2010), and, historically, the urban majority has assumed more rights to water than the rural minority. Many of California’s rural communities are composed of primarily low-income people of color, most of whom speak little to no English. This combination of reasons causes these communities to lack significant representation within the state government, and allows the government to ignore their needs in favor of those policies that benefit the majority.

Center Announces RFP for 2018-2019 Pilot Projects

The UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center is pleased to announce release of a Request for Proposals for 2018-2019 Pilot Projects. Investigators, particularly those interested in community-engaged research are encouraged to review the priority concerns identified by our Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee (CSTAC), which represents the Center’s community partners in the Central and San Joaquin Valleys. Programmatic Priorities: Interdisciplinary team research Development of resources, methods, or technology that will benefit the field of environmental health sciences. Human health concerns, particularly respiratory conditions, cancer, neurodegenerative or neurodevelopmental disorders, immune regulation, reproductive/endocrine or metabolic function, mental health. Translational science Projects likely to inform policy or advocacy efforts for scientifically supported actions Substantial relevance to California’s Central Valley population, such as pesticides, air pollution, climate change and its consequences, water quality and quantity, and toxicants in household and personal care products. A focus on prevention of environmentally-induced disease and disability. Four types of proposals will be considered for funding: Type 1 awards for $20,000 to $30,000 direct costs for a one year project are for standard pilot project proposals, including some community outreach and engagement (required). Revised submissions will be prioritized this year. Type 2 awards for up to $30,000/year direct for two