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Principal Investigator: Beier, Juliane I
Institute Receiving Award University Of Pittsburgh At Pittsburgh
Location Pittsburgh, PA
Grant Number R21ES036032
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 23 Jan 2024 to 31 Dec 2025
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): On February 3, 2023, a freight train carrying vinyl chloride (VC) and other chemicals derailed in East Palestine, OH. VC leaked into the air, soil, surface water, and groundwater, potentially impacting indoor air and drinking water. Population characteristics: East Palestine Village- 5000 people: 94% white, 21% are 65 years and older, no residential mobility (1%), 10% veterans, median income $44,500, and 9.1% poverty. Residents are increasingly concerned about returning home and the long-term effects on their health and environment. Most of our understanding of the impact of VC exposure on human health is derived from occupational exposure studies. Environmental disasters can result in chronic psycho-social stress, further negatively impacting health outcomes in at-risk individuals. Psycho-social stress increases organismal inflammation and enhances organ damage, including cardiometabolic disease. The purpose of this time-sensitive proposal is to deploy a community-engaged approach to collect, bank and analyze a subsample of environmental- biospecimen- and psychosocial stress data to mitigate the immediate and long-term impacts of exposures to VC and other VOCs spilled during the derailment disaster. Aim 1. Embed a community-engaged approach to address environmental- and health concerns. From study design to dissemination of results, we will deploy citizen science strategies to actively engage community members in collecting environmental samples, biospecimens and health outcome data on the interaction of psycho-social stress and VC exposure. The study population will consist of 300 participants living close to the spill and the contaminated surface water streams. Aim 2. Characterize environmental exposure risks to VC and PFAS. Outdoors: surface water, soil and sediment samples of key sites where the greatest exposure risks exist. Residential sampling: air and well water samples will be collected from 100 homes, supplied by both municipal and artesian wells. Sampling instruments will include traditional indoor air samples. Geospatial analyses will be conducted to determine and predict dispersion/drainage patterns. Environmental samples will be collected and banked annually for 2 years. Aim 3. Collect baseline biomarker- and psychosocial data. Blood and urine samples will be collected annually from 300 participants and semi- annually in a subset of 150 to assess liver damage over time and banked for future biomarker- and mechanistic studies. Biomarker analyses will be conducted in a subset of participants guided by geospatial “heatmaps” of the indoor exposure continuum. To measure psychosocial stress, we will collaborate with community leaders to select instruments in the DR2 portfolio, including PSS, PHQ-9 and GAD-7. Anticipated impact.1) Time-sensitive environmental-and biobanking will expeditiously mitigate exposure risks in an underserved community; 2) the banked samples serve as valuable baseline data for more comprehensive cohort studies examining the cumulative impact of exposures to chemical and non-chemical stressors;3) early community engagement helps build trust and collaboration now and in the future.
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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