Cincinnati--The UC Department of Environmental Health, in
conjunction with Children's Hospital, has received a five-year, $5
million federal grant to establish a federally designated environmental
health center. The new environmental health center will be the only one
in the nation based at a children's hospital.
With the grant, the
Department of Environmental Health is establishing the Children's
Environmental Health Center at Children's Hospital. The center is
dedicated to research and education, leading to safe housing and secure
environments for children.
"Our goal is to promote health and
prevent disease by conducting research on environmental antecedents of
disease that originate in childhood, especially hazards found in the
home," said Bruce Lanphear, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics
and director of the Children's Environmental Health Center. "Children's
health is inextricably linked with housing. Unfortunately, despite
growing evidence that residential exposures have dramatic impact on
children's health, housing is largely ignored as a public health
problem. Our research is aimed at making housing and the environment
safe for children."
The research at the center will focus on the
neurobehavioral effects of common environmental toxicants such as lead
exposure, environmental tobacco smoke and indoor allergens that pose
risk factors for asthma. Children are particularly vulnerable to many
environmental health hazards because their organs, including the brain,
are still developing and not as able to protect against harmful
The establishment of the center "complements our
existing programs, which provide unique training opportunities for
researchers and physicians interested in environmental pediatrics,"
said Kim Dietrich, PhD, research professor of environmental health and
associate director for the center. "The award adds substantially to our
international reputation as a major resource in the area of children's
With the grant, the center is conducting five research projects:
will lead a project aimed at testing the safety and effectiveness of
interventions to reduce environmental lead exposure in early childhood.
- Cynthia Bearer, MD, PhD, will lead a project whose
major goal is to determine whether samples of meconium, the first bowel
movement of the newborn, can be used to determine exposure to
neurotoxicants during pregnancy.
- Sandra Roda,
senior research associate of environmental health, is principal
investigator of a residential screening project, aimed at helping
families and communities identify and reduce health risks from lead,
pesticides and ultimately, other environmental hazards.
Ris, PhD, associate professor of clinical pediatrics, will lead a study
to determine the relationship between early prenatal and postnatal
exposure to lead and antisocial behavior in adulthood.
Cecil, PhD, assistant professor of pediatric radiology, will lead a
research project that will employ magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to
determine whether environmental lead exposure alters brain
neurochemistry, structure and function.
Environmental Health Center will collaborate with several community
organizations to enhance the safety of housing for children. These
organizations include The Better Housing League of Greater Cincinnati,
National Center for Healthy Homes and the Alliance to End Childhood