Natural areas are important interfaces between air quality, the public, science and regulation. In the United States and Canada, national parks received over 315million visits during 2004. Many natural areas have been experiencing decreased visibility, increased ozone (O(3)) levels and elevated nitrogen deposition. Ozone is the most pervasive air pollutant in North American natural areas. There is an extensive scientific literature on O(3) exposure-tree response in chambered environments and, lately, free-air exposure systems. Yet, less is known about O(3) impacts on natural terrestrial ecosystems. To advance scientifically defensible O(3) risk assessment for natural forest areas, species-level measurement endpoints must be socially, economically and ecologically relevant. Exposure-based indices, based on appropriate final endpoints, present an underused opportunity to meet this need. Exposure-plant indices should have a high degree of statistical significance, have high goodness of fit, be biologically plausible and include confidence intervals to define uncertainty. They must be supported by exposure-response functions and be easy to use within an air quality regulation context. Ozone exposure-response indices developed within an ambient air context have great potential for improving risk assessment in natural forest areas and enhancing scientific literacy.
There is little information on the lead levels of Indian children nationally. In the late 1990s, members of the Chippewa and Cree tribes living on the Rocky Boy Reservation near Box Elder, Montana, were concerned about environmental pollution and how it might be affecting the health of their children. With financial assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency, the tribes designed and implemented an innovative lead screening program for young children. Because most children on the reservation participated in WIC and Head Start, those programs were used to identify and screen close to 100% of young children on the reservation. The average blood lead level for children ages 1-5 on the Rocky Boy reservation was 2.4 micrograms/dL, which is not significantly different from that of children of the same age nationally. The project showed that Indian families will participate readily in screening programs that may improve their children's health.
Cites: N Engl J Med. 2003 Apr 17;348(16):1515-612700370
The purpose of this article is to report on the development and initial use of a pesticide knowledge test (PKT) specifically designed to evaluate agricultural workers' knowledge of the content mandated by the federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS). The PKT is a 20-item, true-false test, used in a sample of 414 adult and adolescent migrant farmworkers in Oregon. The overall mean score, i.e., number correct, was 15.67(78.4%), with both adults and adolescents demonstrating the most difficulty with questions related to the overall health effects of pesticides. The internal consistency was 0.73, when estimated using a method to correct for small sample sizes. Only six items had less than 70% correct answers. Content validity was achieved by basing the items directly on the Worker Protection Standard; face validity was obtained by having the final version of the test reviewed by a bilingual (English-Spanish) educator familiar with the requirements of the WPS. Overall, adult participants scored better than adolescents, and those with previous pesticide training scored better than those without. There were no differences in scores based on gender or whether the test was taken in English or Spanish; however, participants who spoke indigenous languages scored significantly lower than those who did not. These results indicate that the PKT is a valid, reliable measure of worker knowledge of the content of the WPS, although it does not measure the extent to which that knowledge is actually used in the work setting.
Biomonitoring Equivalents (BEs) are defined as the concentration or range of concentrations of a chemical or its metabolite in a biological medium (blood, urine, or other medium) that is consistent with an existing health-based exposure guideline such as a reference dose (RfD) or tolerable daily intake (TDI). BE values can be used as a screening tool for the evaluation of population-based biomonitoring data in the context of existing risk assessments. This study reviews health based risk assessments and exposure guidance values for 2,2',4,4',5-pentabromodiphenylether (PBDE-99) from Health Canada and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Toxicokinetic data from laboratory animals and humans are reviewed. A BE value corresponding to the US EPA RfD is derived here for PBDE-99 based on the assumption of chronic steady-state exposure, distribution into body lipids, and a previously-estimated first-order half-life of elimination of 1040days. The steady-state lipid-adjusted BE(RfD) is 520ng/g lipid. Sources of uncertainty relating to the underlying toxicokinetic and toxicologic database for PBDE-99 and the simultaneous exposure to multiple PBDE congeners are discussed. The BE(RfD) value may be used as a screening tool for evaluation of population biomonitoring data for PBDE-99 in the context of the existing US EPA risk assessment and can assist in prioritization of the potential need for additional risk assessment efforts for PBDE-99 relative to other chemicals.
Racial and ethnic minority communities, including American Indian and Alaska Natives, have been disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution and contamination. This includes siting and location of point sources of pollution, legacies of contamination of drinking and recreational water, and mining, military and agricultural impacts. As a result, both quantity and quality of culturally important subsistence resources are diminished, contributing to poor nutrition and obesity, and overall reductions in quality of life and life expectancy. Climate change is adding to these impacts on Native American communities, variably causing drought, increased flooding and forced relocation affecting tribal water resources, traditional foods, forests and forest resources, and tribal health. This article will highlight several extramural research projects supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Science to Achieve Results (STAR) tribal environmental research grants as a mechanism to address the environmental health inequities and disparities faced by tribal communities. The tribal research portfolio has focused on addressing tribal environmental health risks through community based participatory research. Specifically, the STAR research program was developed under the premise that tribal populations may be at an increased risk for environmentally-induced diseases as a result of unique subsistence and traditional practices of the tribes and Alaska Native villages, community activities, occupations and customs, and/or environmental releases that significantly and disproportionately impact tribal lands. Through a series of case studies, this article will demonstrate how grantees-tribal community leaders and members and academic collaborators-have been addressing these complex environmental concerns by developing capacity, expertise and tools through community-engaged research.
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