Nation’s top environmental scientists say the EPA should not be weakened

Environmental research is needed now more than ever, insiders say

By Zen Vuong

As scientists begin to find their political voices, three former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency insiders on Wednesday said the Trump administration should not sacrifice environmental quality and the health of the American people “for a coterie of special-interest stakeholders.”

Their opinion piece was published on March 1 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Unfortunately, sowing doubt about scientific evidence has become a widely used strategy for delaying or blocking actions that are purported to potentially affect the bottom lines for particular industries,” the article stated. “We need to maintain the capacity to conduct cutting-edge research and to grapple with the application of the results in formulating evidence-based policies.”

The more than 2,300-word article is authored by Jonathan Samet, previous chair of the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and holder of the Flora L. Thornton Chair in Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC; Thomas Burke, former EPA science adviser and former head of the EPA’s Office of Research and Development under the Obama administration; and Bernard Goldstein, EPA assistant administrator for research and development during the Reagan administration. Continue reading “Nation’s top environmental scientists say the EPA should not be weakened”

USC Environmental Health Centers to Host Parks, Pollution and Obesity Convening: April 17, 2017

The USC Environmental Health Centers (SCEHSC, SC-CEHC, MADRES) will be hosting a spring convening on April 17, 2017.  The event will focus on the issues of Parks, Pollution and Obesity with a closer look at the interface between community needs for green space and physical activity, the potential exposure to pollution in these spaces, and the role that pollution plays in risk for obesity and diabetes.

Organizations that are co-hosting the convening include:

Obesity is a public health problem of epidemic proportions in California. In Los Angeles County the prevalence of obesity is strongly associated with economic hardship, that is, working poor and communities of color are the most heavily burdened by obesity. It is these same communities that face the highest cumulative burden of environmental pollution and the least park space per capita. Increasingly, scientific evidence suggests that exposure to “obesogens” or chemicals that disrupt normal metabolism and promote obesity. Urban air pollution as well as toxic metals have been linked to development of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

“Answering the questions posed for this convening are critical to the well-being of our children’s grandchildren.  Please join this multidisciplinary dialog to begin to develop innovative approaches to this wicked problem,” said Frank Gilliland, director of the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center (SCEHSC).

“Parks and green space have been shown to have broad health benefits to users, in addition to promoting exercise. However, exercise in close proximity to major roadways results in exposure to air pollution that is likely to reduce the health benefits of exercise. With the approval of Measure A, Los Angeles has a historic opportunity to invest in parks, cited and developed to maximize health benefits,” said Rob McConnell, director of the Southern California Children’s Environmental Health Center (SC-CEHC). Continue reading “USC Environmental Health Centers to Host Parks, Pollution and Obesity Convening: April 17, 2017”

Recognizing Carla Truax’s 11 years of commitment to the Community Engagement Team

In January, Carla Truax left the Community Engagement Team at USC to pursue other career goals. Here, the staff and faculty at USC Environmental Health Centers pause to reflect on Carla’s time at USC and her contributions.

Carla Truax, (fourth from right) pictured here with the group of youth leaders and community partners at the conclusion of the Environmental Justice Summer Institute 2014.


In 2005, Carla Truax joined the Community Engagement Team (of the Southern CA Environmental Health Sciences Center) after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Hamline University in Minnesota. In her first few years at USC, Carla worked on advancing collaborations including the nationwide HOPE (Health Observances & Public Education) partnership with universities around the country, and the CARE (Community Action for a Renewed Environment) partnership led by Pacoima Beautiful to reduce diesel pollution. Continue reading “Recognizing Carla Truax’s 11 years of commitment to the Community Engagement Team”

SCEHSC Announces 2017 Pilot Project Grantees

The Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center (SCEHSC) announced the annual pilot awards for 2017 on Friday, Feb. 3rd.  Director Frank Gilliland, MD, PhD said that the applications covered a wide range of cutting edge environmental health issues.  Four pilots were funded a total of $123,525 for 2017:
Continue reading “SCEHSC Announces 2017 Pilot Project Grantees”

Air pollution linked to heightened risk of Type 2 diabetes in obese Latino children

High levels of pollution may make insulin-creating cells become less efficient, increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes, USC researchers say

by Zen Vuong

Latino children who live in areas with higher levels of air pollution have a heightened risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a new USC-led study.

Scientists tracked children’s health and respective levels of residential air pollution for about 3½ years before associating chronic unhealthy air exposure to a breakdown in beta cells, special pancreatic cells that secrete insulin and maintain the appropriate sugar level in the bloodstream.

By the time the children turned 18, their insulin-creating pancreatic cells were 13 percent less efficient than normal, making these individuals more prone to eventually developing Type 2 diabetes, researchers said.

Air quality in Los Angeles and other cities is a concern for researchers who study its effects. (Photo/iStock)

Continue reading “Air pollution linked to heightened risk of Type 2 diabetes in obese Latino children”

Living Near Busy Roads Infographic Receives Recognition

Living Near Busy Roads or Traffic PollutionThe Community Outreach and Engagement Team recently received recognition for the Living Near Busy Roads or Traffic Pollution infographic that was initially produced in 2014. The Transportation Research Board recognized the interactive infographic as part of an overall competition focused on communicating the link between transportation and public health.

The team received the recognition at the TRBs Annual Meeting in Washington DC on January 10, 2017. Read associated article published by NIEHS in the online newsletter Environmental Factor.

Continue reading “Living Near Busy Roads Infographic Receives Recognition”

Air pollution may lead to dementia in older women

USC-led study suggests that tiny, dirty airborne particles called PM2.5 invade the brain and wreak havoc

by Zen Vuong

MEDIA COVERAGE: Science (AAAS), New York TimesUSC News, Press Enterprise, Science Daily, LA Daily News, Environmental News Network, Science Newsline, Medical Xpress, U.S News, The Economic Times, Psych Central, Bold Sky

Tiny air pollution particles — the type that mainly comes from power plants and automobiles — may greatly increase the chance of dementia, including dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease, according to USC-led research.

Scientists and engineers found that older women who live in places with fine particulate matter exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard are 81 percent more at risk for global cognitive decline and 92 percent more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s.

Air pollution may lead to dementia in older women USC-led study suggests that tiny, dirty airborne particles called PM2.5 invade the brain and wreak havoc
(Animation/Meg Rosenburg)

If their findings hold up in the general population, air pollution could be responsible for about 21 percent of dementia cases, according to the study.

Link to research here.

Continue reading “Air pollution may lead to dementia in older women”