NEWSLETTER

Spring 2018 Newsletter


ISCHE 2018 election results 

We had a fantastic slate of candidates for the two open ISCHE councilor positions, which is an indication of the growing importance and strength of our young society. We are grateful to all of the candidates. Amazingly, because there was a tie for second place, the board decided to welcome three new members. A short bio for each of the new councilors is included below. 


  1. Patrick H. Ryan, PhD Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine I am an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Environmental Health at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine. I obtained my M.S. and Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Cincinnati, Department of Environmental Health. I joined the faculty of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2013 where I currently serve as the Associate Director for Research in the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology.
    My research program focuses on the role of indoor and outdoor environmental toxicants on pediatric health, with specific focus on the impact of air pollutants on respiratory and neurobehavioral development. In addition to the development and application of spatial models of air pollution to study pediatric allergic disease, respiratory development, and neurobehavioral outcomes, my research includes the use of personal air monitors and health sensors in epidemiologic studies. Additional research interests include the impact of naturally occurring elongated mineral fibers on respiratory and autoimmune disease in Libby, MT and other locations in the western U.S

  2. Marcela Tamayo y Ortiz, ScD 
    National Institute of Public Health, Mexico
    I am a researcher for the Mexican Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT), working at the National Institute of Public Health, Mexico (INSP) since 2014. I obtained an MSc in environmental health from INSP in 2009 and a ScD in environmental and occupational epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2014 with Dr. Robert Wright as my advisor. Since 2006 I joined the ELEMENT project where I work with Dr. Téllez-Rojo. My research and publications have focused on prenatal and early life environmental and psychosocial exposures. From 2000-2005 I worked for GIRA, a Mexican NGO, focusing on sustainable handcraft production. My work included a sensitization program for traditional potters using lead-based glazes, in the state of Michoacán.
    I am an advisor and instructor for graduate students at INSP. I participated in the Jan-2016 ISCHE meeting, having a memorable experience in terms of knowledge and mentoring exchange. Becoming an ISCHE Council member would expand my knowledge on children’s EH subjects, like international policy that could be implemented in Mexico. Working with the Council members would be highly rewarding for me. I would contribute to ISCHE with my experience in Public Health and I can serve as a liaison with EH and Nutrition students and members from INSP. 

  3. I Leslie Rubin, MD 
    Department of Pediatrics, Morehouse School of Medicine, Co-director
    Southeast PEHSU at Emory University, Medical Director of Developmental Pediatrics Specialists
    I am originally from South Africa where I trained in Pediatrics and did fellowships at Case Western in Cleveland, worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for 14 years, then Atlanta, Georgia. I am an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Morehouse School of Medicine, Co-director of the Southeast PEHSU at Emory University, Medical Director of Developmental Pediatrics Specialists and Founder of Break the Cycle of Health Disparities, Inc. My clinical work in Developmental Pediatrics has resulted in the publication of Health Care for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Across the Lifespan, Springer 2016, the Robert E. Cooke Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 and the Autism Achievement Award in 2016. I was one of the founding members of ISCHE.
    I became involved with the Southeast PEHSU in 1999 and worked with the community in Anniston, Alabama where there had been pollution from chemical factories; here I learned about environmental justice. This work resulted in the Award for Excellence in Pediatric Environmental Health in 2005 from the EPA. In 2004, I founded a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization to focus on children’s health disparities and launched an annual program called Break the Cycle of Children’s Environmental Health Disparities which has since worked with over 100 students from 47 university departments in 10 states in the USA resulting in the publication more than 100 student papers in 9 international journals and books. This program received the Children's Environmental Health Excellence Award from the EPA Office of Children’s Health Protection in 2016. I am currently actively involved at many levels in children’s environmental health at local, regional and national levels including the Board of Scientific Counsellors at the EPA in the area of Sustainable Healthy Communities. 

 


ISCHE selects site of January 2019 retreat 

ISCHE has selected Hacienda Misné in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for our next 3-day retreat during the week of January 7, 2019. Returning to Mexico will allow us to deepen our connections with researchers in Mexico and the region. Everyone who was at the last meeting in Cuernavaca was extremely enthusiastic about returning. Merida is famous for its unique food, colorful colonial architecture, museums, nearby archeological sites (such as the pyramids at Chichen Itza), and cenotes (crystal clear swimming holes created by an asteroid 66 million years ago). Historically, there are many French influences including Pasejo Montejo, a wide tree-lined avenue inspired by the Champs-Élysées and dotted with palatial Beaux Arts homes. 

Below is the introduction from the Hacienda Misne website: 

As the century old oaken door closes, the world remains behind and you will be transported into an oasis of peace and relaxation. Pebbled paths with lush flowers and sturdy trees welcome you. You have arrived at Hacienda Misné, a hacienda in Merida, located just 15 minutes away from downtown and from Merida's international airport. 

Hacienda Misné is a historic construction from the 18th century, with a unique combination of architectural details from colonial times, with a slightly french influence. It has a beautifully restored main house and the property is still surrounded by the walls that used to protect the Hacienda and its tropical lush gardens. The history and traditions of Yucatan, combined with the natural beauty of its exuberant gardens, the singing of the birds and the sigh of the yucatecan breeze make it feel as if time has stopped. 

Please hold the week of January 7, 2019 open and look for more information about registration coming early this summer. 



ISCHE signs on as plaintiff in Earth Justice suit of EPA 

A short review of the current status by Neil Gormley, Earthjustice lead attorney on the case. 

ISCHE is participating in a legal action challenging a directive issued by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on October 31, 2017, that bars scientists with EPA grant funding from service on EPA advisory committees, while allowing industry-funded scientists to serve. The directive threatens to politicize the scientific process at EPA and undermine the protection of public health. 

The plaintiffs in the case are ISCHE, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the National Hispanic Medical Association, Edward Avol, Robyn Wilson, and Joe Arvai. ISCHE is represented by the non-profit law firm Earthjustice. Two other cases challenging the directive have also been filed, one by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the other by the Natural Resources Defense Council. ISCHE’s case was filed on December 21, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint advances four arguments why the directive is illegal. First, the complaint explains that that the directive conflicts with federal ethics laws, which specifically address the situation of people on federal advisory committees and provide that their financial interests do not create an ethics issue unless the individual seeks to advise the agency on the “particular matter” in which she or he has a financial interest—in this case, their grant-funded research. EPA lacks authority to adopt a contrary policy because the federal ethics laws are “uniform” across all federal agencies. Second, the complaint argues that federal ethics laws require EPA to consult with the Office of Government ethics before adopting an ethics-related policy, which EPA failed to do here. Third, the complaint argues that the directive is “arbitrary and capricious” because it irrationally treats the financial interests of grant-funded scientists as more problematic than the financial interests of industry-funded scientists. Fourth, the complaint argues that the directive is “arbitrary and capricious” because EPA failed to consider the risk that the directive will prevent the agency from accessing the scientific expertise it needs, as required by laws establishing the science advisory committees. The complaint asks the court to strike down the directive, bar EPA from applying it further, and order the reinstatement of scientists removed from the advisory committees. 

Although court rules in the District of Columbia require EPA to file the “administrative record” for the directive—which consists of all the documents agency decision-makers considered in taking this action—at the time they file a motion to dismiss, EPA filed a motion to dismiss our case without filing the administrative record. EPA’s gambit prevents us—and the court—from fully assessing the legality of the directive, and is delaying the progress of the case. We have filed a motion asking the court to order EPA to file the administrative record, but the court hasn’t ruled on our motion yet. 


EPA’s motion to dismiss makes several “jurisdictional” arguments, including that the directive doesn’t harm ISCHE or its members and that the legal challenge to the directive is somehow premature. The motion to dismiss also asks the court to rule that the federal ethics laws are irrelevant to the directive and that federal law grants Administrator Pruitt complete, unreviewable discretion in management of the agency’s advisory committees. We will file a responsive brief on May 11 explaining why the court should reject EPA’s arguments. 


ISCHE Sponsored Sessions at Pediatric Academic Societies 

ISCHE is an affiliate member of PAS allowing us early submission of two or three session suggestions each year. We have sponsored a couple of sessions each year for the last four years with this arrangement, giving our members an inside track at this important meeting for Children’s Environmental Health. Below are abstracts for our two sessions in Toronto, Canada this May. 


Consequences and Environmental Determinants of Early Life Thyroid Function 

Joanne Rovet – Sick Kids Hospital, Toronto – The Role of Thyroid Hormones in Neurodevelopment 

Joseph M. Braun – Brown University – Early Life Triclosan Exposure and Thyroid Function 

Aimin Chen – University of Cincinnati – Prenatal Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether Exposure and Thyroid Function During Pregnancy, Infancy, and Childhood 

Elizabeth Pearce – Boston Medical Center – The Role of Perchlorate and Iodine in Thyroid Function 

In this session, nationally-recognized clinician-researchers, epidemiologists, and psychologists will provide cutting-edge knowledge regarding: 1) the role of thyroid hormones in fetal and child neurodevelopment, with an emphasis on recent findings regarding subtle thyroid hormone alterations (Dr. Joanne Rovet); 2) the impact of early life triclosan, polybrominated diphenyl ether, and perchlorate exposure on maternal, fetal, or neonatal thyroid function, including discussion of underlying biological mechanisms (Drs. Joseph M. Braun, Aimin Chen, and Elizabeth Pearce); and 3) the importance of iodine intake in ensuring adequate thyroid function (Dr. Elizabeth Pearce). We will conclude by discussing how we can improve our understanding of the cumulative effect of environmental exposures on thyroid function and use this knowledge to improve children’s health by translating these findings into public health and clinical action. These topics are of interest to health care providers and researchers in endocrinology, developmental pediatrics, and public health.

 

Toxic Chemicals and the Rise of Chronic Diseases in Childhood: A Preventable Epidemic? 

Mark Miller – UCSF – Prevention of Childhood Cancer: The Time Has Come 

Leonardo Trasende – NYU – Linking Toxic Chemicals with Obesity, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease in Childhood 

Rachel Morello-Frosch – UC Berkeley – The Impact of Toxic Chemicals and Social Stressors on Birth Outcomes 

Bruce Lanphear – Simon Fraser University – The Population Impact of Toxic Chemicals on Intellectuals Abilities and Behavioral Problems: Implications for Prevention 

Widespread exposures to toxic chemicals and pollutants, such as lead, pesticides, flame retardants and highway traffic, are increasingly implicated in the development of diseases and disorders in children, like leukemia, asthma, ADHD, autism, preterm birth and obesity. The prevalence of many of these diseases has risen, yet action to prevent them has lagged behind the evidence. Improving our understanding of the etiologic role of chemical risk factors could provide new avenues into the prevention of some of the most prevalent chronic diseases in children. Speakers will present research on the impact of toxic chemicals linked with prevalent diseases, describe key limitations of existing studies, and discuss ways to reduce exposures and ultimately prevent disease and disability. 


ISCHE is looking for volunteers for committees 

Committee for the Herbert Needleman Scientist-Advocate Award for Outstanding Contributions to Children’s Health and the Environment 

In 2017, the International Society for Children’s Health and the Environment (ISCHE) established the Herbert Needleman Scientist-Advocate Award to honor Herbert Needleman, a pediatrician who devoted his life to studying and protecting children from toxic chemicals. This award, which will typically be awarded annually, recognizes an individual’s outstanding contribution to understanding and preventing the adverse impact of toxic chemicals on children. The award will preferentially be perceived to be an unsung hero; a scientist-advocate whose work has yet to be recognized. 

Nominations Nominations are not accepted for the Herbert Needleman Award. Members of the ISCHE Awards Committee, who will develop selection criteria and select a recipient, are not eligible for the award during their service on the committee. Any ISCHE member is eligible to join the committee. Please forward a message with your interest to Bruce Lanphear at: bruce_lanphear@sfu.ca . 


Membership committee 

Rob McConnell, who is chair of the membership committee, needs help to recruit members (thank you Rob!). A truly important committee, the future of ISCHE depends upon it. Contact: rmcconne@usc.edu

 

Meeting Planning Committee 

Please consider joining the planning committee for the January 2019 retreat in Merida, Mexico. If you have been to an ISCHE retreat you can imagine the thrill of designing the meeting and being part of another exciting gathering. 

Contact Jennifer: jlames@berkeley.edu

 

Introducing new ISCHE coordinator 

Carly Hyland

We are pleased to introduce you to our new ISCHE coordinator Carly Hyland! Carly will be taking over for Jennifer Ames who recently finished her PhD at UC Berkeley and will be starting a postdoc this summer (but looks forward to staying involved with ISCHE!) Carly has a Master's from UC Berkeley in Global Health and Environment and will be starting a PhD in Environmental Health Sciences this Fall. Carly's research interests include the health effects of pesticide exposures and she has conducted fieldwork with farmworkers in Guatemala and Costa Rica. 

Starting shortly, ISCHE correspondence will come from Carly’s email at chyland@berkeley.edu.

 

Release of new Little Things Matter video 

Bruce Lanphear, ISCHE vice-president, recently released “Cause or Cure?”, a new video in the series “Little Things Matter: Unleashing the Power of Prevention.” These short, educational videos are aimed at disseminating the work of ISCHE researchers and advocates to a wider audience and promoting environmental health literacy. 

About the video: For the past 50 years, we’ve clung to the belief that with enough investment, we will find cures for what kills us. Have we become so enamored with the search for elusive cures that we fail to seize opportunities to prevent death, disease and disability? This animation explores how we can prevent disease

View the video at this link: 

http://littlethingsmatter.ca/2018/02/12/cause-or-cure/ 

We invite other ISCHE members to share their work developing new tools and educational materials for improving public understanding of children’s environmental health. Please let Mark and Carly know and we can feature your work in the next newsletter!