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ATLANTA (August 9, 2021) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Emory University will receive $1,345,022 of the $9,272,545 total funding to seven institutions for research to better estimate children’s chemical exposures from soil and dust ingestion.
“It is our duty to protect the health of those most vulnerable among us, including our children,” said Wayne Cascio, acting principal deputy assistant administrator for science in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “The researchers receiving these awards will improve our understanding of how children are exposed to chemicals, which will inform future actions to reduce these exposures and better protect their health.”
“This award helps researchers at Emory University develop approaches to advance research that will help protect our children,” said Acting Region 4 Administrator John Blevins. “This EPA-funded research will further our understanding of children’s chemical exposures and potential strategies to reduce their impact on children’s health.”
“A key part of this project is strong engagement with the community,” says Eri Saikawa, associate professor in Emory University’s Department of Environmental Sciences, who is the lead contact and co-principal investigator on the grant. “We want to make sure that community members are not just subjects of the research but involved in ways that help them benefit from the science.”
Emory University will use this grant to conduct a community-based research study to understand and mitigate chemical contaminant exposure among children in neighborhoods with high lead and heavy metal contamination in soils around West Atlanta.
Young children may ingest significant quantities of soil and dust because they often play on the ground and put their hands and other objects into their mouths that can have dust or soil on them. For children, especially those six months through six years of age, soil and dust ingestion can be a major route of exposure to chemicals such as lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and asbestos. The research announced today will focus on improving estimates of children’s ingestion rates of these chemicals. Accurate, comprehensive measurements of soil and dust ingestion rates are critical for effective risk assessment, reduction, mitigation, and prevention measures.
The other six researchers receiving funding through EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program to help improve children’s health include:
- Florida International University, Miami, Fla., will estimate soil and dust ingestion rates in children by identifying specific tracers of dust and soil exposure combined with relevant environmental information.
- Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., will create an integrated and innovative portfolio of tools and approaches to assess dust and soil exposures for children ages six months to six years via activity pattern and tracer studies.
- New York University, New York, N.Y., will evaluate specific home environment factors and practices that lead to elevated levels of individual toxic substances ingestible by infants. They hope to evaluate mitigation strategies to reduce infants’ exposure to harmful chemicals in household dust.
- North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, N.C., will obtain data on dust loading on various objects and surfaces in children’s homes, foods, and children’s hands. They will also conduct computer-aided investigations about children’s hand contacts and mouthing patterns.
- University of California Davis, Davis, Cal., will develop an innovative method for determining children’s dust ingestion rates using unique tracer compounds identified in household dusts.
- University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, Nev., will develop a behavior-driven dust and soil ingestion model to predict the dust and soil ingestion rate from children’s microenvironmental features and behavioral factors.
EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program aims to stimulate and support scientific and engineering research that advances EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. It is a competitive, peer-reviewed, extramural research program that provides access to the nation’s best scientists and engineers in academic and other nonprofit research institutions. The STAR program funds research on the environmental and public health effects of air quality, climate change, environmental justice, water quality and quantity, hazardous waste, toxic substances, and pesticides.
Learn more about these projects: https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipients.display/rfa_id/666/records_per_page/ALL
Learn more about EPA’s research grants program: https://www.epa.gov/research-grants
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