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New NIH-EPA research centers to study environmental health disparities

Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research

The National Institutes of Health has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fundĀ five new research centers to improve health in communities overburdened by pollution and other environmental factors that contribute to health disparities. Within each center, scientists will partner with community organizations to study these concerns and develop culturally appropriate ways to reduce exposure to harmful environmental conditions.

The centers will examine a range of stressors on health, including air, water, and ground pollution as well as environmental conditions such as sub-standard housing, poor diet, and adverse social dynamics.

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The new centers

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Boston University School of Public Health, will study how housing conditions may affect birth weight, childhood growth trajectories, and risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and whether improved urban housing may benefit health.

Johns Hopkins University, will compare urban and rural effects of poverty on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the impact of improved dietary intake on preventing or mitigating disease progression.

University of Arizona, will work with indigenous populations to examine chemical contamination of traditional foods, water, air, and household environments, and increase environmental health literacy.

University of New Mexico, will examine how contact with metal mixtures from abandoned mines affects rural Native American populations through exposures related to inadequate drinking water infrastructure, reliance on local foods, and other uses of local resources to maintain their traditional lifestyle and culture.

University of Southern California, will study how environmental factors may contribute to childhood obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy in Hispanic and Latino communities.

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