Intern Perspective: High school student impacted by local environmental justice issues

This summer the Community Outreach and Engagement team had the pleasure of hosting interns ranging from high school to masters level students. Maggie Shi, a high school senior from Yorba Linda, CA spend two months with us doing a variety of projects. A quick learner with a skill set that enabled her to tackle any assignment given to her, Maggie contributed in a variety of ways to the work that the Community Outreach staff and college interns did over the summer. At the end of her time with us, Maggie provided the following reflections on her experience.

I remember sitting at my desk on the first day of my internship, feeling excited, nervous, and a little out of place. As I looked around at all these unfamiliar faces around me, it dawned upon me that USC’s Division of Environmental Health probably didn’t take in many high school interns, and all the other college interns seemed much more knowledgeable and experienced than I was. Nevertheless, I knew how fortunate I was to be here, and I was still extremely excited. Thankfully, throughout the first few weeks, I was met with an incredible amount of support and enthusiasm from both my fellow interns and other employees in the office, and I quickly settled in. Continue reading “Intern Perspective: High school student impacted by local environmental justice issues”

Intern Perspective: Toxic chemicals in our homes, The pollution we can control

During Summer 2016, the Community Engagement team of the MADRES Environmental Health Disparities Center at USC began to host public health interns from Cal State LA. In response to a request that came from community groups in the LA area, interns began their work developing content and implementing workshops for local community groups around the theme of toxic chemicals in the homes. After conducting the first workshop in the series, interns Andrea Calderon and Giovanna Manson-Hing reflect upon their experience below. 

Every day people are exposed to hidden toxins whether it be at school, at work or even at home. Pollution is all around us and most times we can’t control it, but sometimes we can. One of the many ways we can control the pollution in our homes is through awareness of toxic chemicals found in cleaning products. Continue reading “Intern Perspective: Toxic chemicals in our homes, The pollution we can control”

SCEHSC Seminar Series: “Communicating Air Quality Data and Health Risk to the Public”

The SCEHSC Seminar Series presents

“Communicating Air Quality Data and Health Risk to the Public”

Jo Kay Ghosh, PhD

Health Effects Officer
South Coast Air Quality Management District

Friday, September 9, 2016
11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Soto Street I Building, Room 116
2001 North Soto Street
Los Angeles, CA 90032

If you would like to attend the FREE seminar, please email jacy@usc.edu

Dr. Jo Kay Ghosh is the Health Effects Officer at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). She earned her doctorate in Epidemiology from the UCLA School of Public Health, with her work on air pollution and birth outcomes. She also conducted post-doctoral research at the USC Department of Preventive Medicine, examining the effects of air pollution on cancer risk. Previously, she worked at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, where she managed the Epidemiology and Research Unit of the Tuberculosis Control Program. 

Continue reading “SCEHSC Seminar Series: “Communicating Air Quality Data and Health Risk to the Public””

AirPollBrain and CEHC Presents: “Perinatal Metal Exposure and Neurodevelopment: Identifying Windows of Susceptibility”

The SCEHSC Seminar Series presents

“Perinatal Metal Exposure and Neurodevelopment: Identifying Windows of Susceptibility”

11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

AirPollBrain Mini-Symposium: “Air Pollution and Adolescent Brain Development”

12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Megan Horton, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Soto Street I Building, Room 116
2001 North Soto Street
Los Angeles, CA 90032

If you would like to attend the FREE seminar, please email jacy@usc.edu

Dr. Horton earned her doctoral degree in Environmental Health Sciences at Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. During her doctoral training, she gained expertise in the development and use of biological markers to measure prenatal and early life exposures to environmental toxicants, focusing mainly on residential exposure to pesticides. Subsequently, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Sergievsky Center for the Epidemiologic Study of Neurologic Diseases. The focus of this postdoc was to explore the use of brain imaging to investigate the impact of prenatal exposure to pesticides and secondhand smoke on neuropsychological and behavioral function throughout childhood. Dr. Horton was recently awarded an NIH career transition award and accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her current work combines her experience with biomarker development and neuroimaging to understand the mechanisms of neurodevelopmental toxicity following exposure to chemical mixtures.

Visitor parking at the Soto Street Building is limited. If you are planning to park at the Soto building during the seminar please contact Marissa Jacy (jacy@usc.edu) for more information. If you are a USC employee, please plan to take the free USC shuttle to our seminars whenever possible. Information about the USC shuttle can be found at http://transnet.usc.edu/index.php/bus-map-schedules/.

Special Seminar with Manish Arora, PhD: “Reconstructing Early Life Environment Exposures Using Tooth Matrix Biomarkers”

Manish Arora is Director of Exposure Biology and Division Chief of Environmental Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. He graduated as a dentist from India, undertook postgraduate public health training in Australia and postdoctoral training at the Harvard School of Public Health. He has used a number of advanced analytical chemistry and nuclear beam methods, including laser ablation-coupled mass spectrometry, and synchrotron and proton-based x-ray emission for bio-imaging of hard and soft tissues. Dr. Arora has published his work in leading journals including Nature and Nature Reviews Neurology, and his work was recently recognized by the New Innovator Award from the NIEHS and NIH Director’s office.

 

Air pollution affects lung cancer survival time

Exposure to higher levels of air pollution shortens survival after lung cancer diagnosis

PRESS COVERAGE: The Guardian, Press Enterprise, MedPage Today, California Healthline, Daily Mail UK, Science Blog, Regal Tribune, WebMD, stgist, Medscape, Immortal News, Newsmax, OnMedica, EIN News,  Domain-B, Fox News

Exposure to air pollution has many impacts across the lifespan and has now been linked to survival of patients after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Lung cancer has been the most commonly diagnosed cancer over the past several decades. Patterns of lung cancer incidence and mortality have been closely tied to exposure to tobacco smoke across time and place. There is also a growing body of evidence that shows that air pollution exposures are associated with lung cancer incidence and mortality but, since survival times after lung cancer diagnosis can be quite short, few studies have attempted to disentangle the two. In addition, the International agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently classified ambient air pollution as carcinogenic.

“We thought that if ambient air pollution is a carcinogen that can drive lung cancer development, then exposure to air pollution in patients already diagnosed with lung cancer could promote the progression of their disease through the same biological pathways.” said Sandrah Eckel, PhD, assistant professor of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine and lead author of the research. Therefore, Dr. Eckel and colleagues at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California decided to more closely explore the question of whether lung cancer survival times might be affected by air pollution.

The research, published this month in Thorax, shows that the length of time that lung cancer patients live after diagnosis varies depending on their exposures to regional pollution. Researchers found that the median survival for people diagnosed with early stage lung cancers who lived in areas with high levels of regional pollution was approximately 3 years shorter than for people who lived in areas with lower levels of pollution. “We focused on California, since there are a wide range of air pollution levels here and one of the largest and longest running air quality monitoring networks and cancer registry system in the US,” said Eckel.

Dr. Eckel and her team of researchers looked at lung cancer data from over 350,000 patients in the California Cancer Registry who were diagnosed with lung cancer between 1988-2009. From the extensive and detailed dataset, the team assigned air pollution exposure levels based on the average exposure at the patient’s residence at diagnosis. The pollutants that were used included: nitrogen dioxide (NO2, ppb), ozone (O3, ppb), and particulate matter with diameter <10 μm (PM10, mg/m3) and 2.5 μm (PM2.5, mg/m3). “This study is unique in that it looks at another modifiable risk factor, besides smoking, that can impact lung cancer survival after diagnosis. The California Cancer Registry data provided a large, population-based sample of all lung cancer cases diagnosed in California over the last 20 years, minimizing the biases often encountered in other types of study designs,” said Dr. Eckel.

In general, the stage of cancer at diagnosis is a major determinant of survival, with patients diagnosed with earlier stage cancer living longer. As expected, the impacts of air pollution on survival were most evident in patients diagnosed at an early stage, when their cancer was localized to only their lungs. The median survival in patients with localized cancer at diagnosis living in areas with higher levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) was only 2.4 years as compared to 5.7 years in patients living in areas with lower levels of PM2.5. Patients whose cancer had spread to other parts of their bodies had shorter survival times overall and showed little difference in survival time whether they had high or low exposures to air pollution. These patterns of association persisted even after adjusting for numerous socio-demographic characteristics and type of cancer treatment.

The study’s findings are intriguing, but additional research is needed to determine the causality of the association between air pollution and lung cancer survival rates. Even so, these findings suggest that newly diagnosed lung cancer patients might want to consider taking precautions to reduce their own exposures to air pollution. As we continue to see increased emphasis on lung cancer screening, we will see more and more patients diagnosed with lung cancer at early stages and these are the patients that could potentially benefit the most from reduced air pollution exposures.

What can lung cancer patients with a locally diagnosed cancer do to take action that may effectively extend their survival times? Dr. Frank Gilliland, senior investigator on the study said, “In the short-term, common-sense precautions to reduce personal exposure to air pollution exposures include avoidance of places and times with high air pollution levels and using indoor home filtration systems. In the long-term, air quality standards should be evaluated to consider whether they are adequately protecting human health.”

The article, “Air pollution affects lung cancer survival time” by Sandrah P Eckel, Myles Cockburn, Yu-Hsiang Shu, Huiyu Deng, Frederick W Lurmann, Lihua Liu, and Frank D Gilliland. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/thoraxjnl-2015-207927) appears in Thorax, Published Online First (August 4, 2016)

Related links: 
Article
Editorial by Dr. Jamie E. Hart, Harvard
Podcast interview with Dr. Hart

This work was supported by the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center (grant 5P30ES007048) funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; the Hastings Foundation; the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program under contract HHSN261201000140C awarded to the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, contract HHSN261201000035C awarded to the University of Southern California and contract HHSN261201000034C awarded to the Public Health Institute; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Program of Cancer Registries, under agreement U58DP003862-01 awarded to the California Department of Public Health.

 

SCEHSC Workshop Seminar: High-Resolution Metabolomics: A Platform for Exposome Research

The SCEHSC Seminar Series presents

“High-Resolution Metabolomics: A Platform for Exposome Research”

12:00-1:00 p.m.

Practical Considerations for Chemical Measurement by High-Resolution Metabolomics

2:00-3:00 p.m.

Douglas Walker, PhD Candidate

Continue reading “SCEHSC Workshop Seminar: High-Resolution Metabolomics: A Platform for Exposome Research”