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Principal Investigator: Lanza, Kevin Lai
Institute Receiving Award University Of Texas Hlth Sci Ctr Houston
Location Houston, TX
Grant Number K01ES034382
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 01 Sep 2022 to 31 Aug 2025
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Less than one-half of U.S. children age 6–11 are reaching recommended levels of physical activity, a health behavior that tracks into adulthood and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Significant investment has been directed towards creating healthy environments for school-age children including Safe Routes to School (SRTS), a national program that includes improvements to sidewalks, crosswalks, and bicycle lanes. SRTS has been shown to increase the percentage of children active commuting to school; however, high ambient temperatures may serve as a barrier to engaging in outdoor physical activity due to thermal discomfort. Understanding the impact of SRTS on children's heat stress as measured by wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) and physical activity levels is critical for health equity, especially in Texas where children in low-income communities and communities of color live in areas less supportive of physical activity and disproportionately higher ambient temperatures due to discriminatory policies and ongoing disinvestment. The proposed research leverages the STREETS study—a pre- and post-assessment of SRTS in Austin, Texas, on child physical activity—to propose three specific aims: 1) construct ambient exposure estimates of WBGT on school routes pre- and post-intervention and in home neighborhoods using spatially- and temporally-refined modeling and GPS units; 2) determine how ambient temperatures and the built environment are associated with active school commuting; and 3) identify methods to measure and document how children and their parents experience and perceive ambient environmental exposures. Using spatiotemporal modeling within GIS and formulae in the literature, WBGT will be estimated for all school routes taken by 462 students enrolled in the STREETS cohort (320 students from 23 schools receiving SRTS; 142 students from 10 schools not receiving SRTS) who were tasked with wearing accelerometers and GPS units for seven consecutive days over four periods (2018–2022) before and after SRTS implementation. Linear mixed-effects modeling will be used to determine the relations between WBGT, built environment, and child physical activity. To learn how children and their parents experience and perceive ambient environmental exposures, participatory methods (surveys, mapping, sensors) will be tested with 40 third grade students and their parents recruited by purposive sampling from schools enrolled in the STREETS study. To become an independent investigator specializing in climate equity, the candidate developed a career development plan with three training objectives: 1) to become proficient in working with ambient environmental data, in particular downscaled model outputs; 2) to develop expertise in conducting advanced statistical analyses commonly applied in exposure and health studies; and 3) to acquire familiarity with the design and techniques of community-based participatory research. Career development will mainly take place at the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 93 - Environmental Justice/Environmental Health Disparities
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications No publications associated with this grant
Program Officer Lindsey Martin
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