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Principal Investigator: Theberge, Ashleigh Brooks
Institute Receiving Award University Of Washington
Location Seattle, WA
Grant Number R21ES034338
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 13 May 2022 to 30 Apr 2025
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): PROJECT SUMMARY/ABSTRACT As wildfire occurrence and intensity has increased in recent years, understanding the human impact of wildfire smoke (WFS) exposure has become paramount. The impact of WFS on a community can be examined by investigating the proximal deleterious biological effects of WFS exposure, health and well-being and perceived impact of evidence-based exposure reduction interventions at community scale. At the beginning of the 2021 WFS season, we commenced preliminary research to gauge the biological and social impact of WFS in the Methow Valley, WA; a region in the Pacific Northwest with historically high WFS exposure burden, where by early July 2021, had experienced several weeks of WFS exposure that was “nearly off the chart hazardous”[2]. We distributed a novel kit, homeRNA, for self-collection and stabilization of whole blood RNA that allows for the assessment of inflammatory gene response to WFS to 62 participants across the American West, including 18 in the Methow Valley, WA, collecting over 400 stabilized blood samples to date: a subset of which will be analyzed with a NanoString panel of ~800 inflammatory genes. Concomitantly, leveraging the donation and distribution of 2,000 HEPA portable air cleaners (PACs) to community members across Methow Valley, WA, we enrolled and surveyed nearly 1,000 participants to assess their perceived health and well-being during WFS events, and the perceived protective effect of the HEPA PACs. This unprecedented opportunity allows us to simultaneously probe into the inflammatory gene response effects of WFS exposure, and perceptions regarding the health and well-being impacts of WFS exposure and mitigation strategies. Here we seek to assess the biological effect of WFS in the inflammatory gene response by identifying key inflammatory response genes in blood before, during, and after exposure using our homeRNA blood sampling kits. We also aim to assess perceived WFS impacts on health, well-being, and behavior change across socio-economic, demographic, occupational, and household groups, as well as the perceived impacts of HEPA PACs, an evidence-based exposure reduction intervention increasingly used and recommended in WFS-affected communities. Together, these results will inform the development of a subsequent R01 application that will combine homeRNA and survey research to improve mechanistic understanding of the effects of WFS exposure and evidence-based exposure reduction interventions (like HEPA PACs) on inflammatory gene expression, behavior and perceived health and well-being. Our long-standing, genuine partnership with the Methow Valley community honed through years of collaboration enables this research, and uniquely allows for real-time science communication and research translation. As wildfires are expected to increase in frequency and magnitude, enhancing our scientific knowledge about health impacts and their underlying mechanisms, as well the impact of interventions, is of immediate and paramount importance.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 97 - Partnerships for Environmental Public Health/Community Research
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications No publications associated with this grant
Program Officer Lindsey Martin