Environmental Protection

$7M in STAR Grants Target Effects of Exposures, Social Stressors

EPA is asking universities to gather comprehensive community-wide data on human health impacts,

As part of the Science to Achieve Results research grants program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $7 million to fund cumulative human health risk assessment research.

Scientists around the country will study a combination of harmful factors affecting human health, including research on poor and underserved communities with extensive pollution-based problems. This groundbreaking research will focus on environments where people are exposed to multiple stressors such as chemicals, anxiety, and poor nutrition. When these stressors are combined, they can lead to a much higher risk of health issues.

The awardees are Harvard School of Public Health, Channing Laboratory; the University of Texas' School of Public Health, the University of North Carolina, University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston; Boston University; the University of Texas School of Public Health, National Chiao-Tung University, University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center; the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Three of the projects received about $1.2 million each.

“EPA made a public commitment in 2010 to take action to address contributors to disproportionate environmental health impacts,” said Paul Anastas, Ph.D., assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “This research could pave the way for more interdisciplinary work that is responsive to community concerns and environmental justice.”

The STAR grants will research such factors as:

  • The combined effects of metals and stress on central nervous system function,
  • Disparities in air pollutant risks,
  • Effects of stress and traffic pollutants on childhood asthma, and
  • Cumulative risk assessments in urban populations and low-income communities near a Superfund site.

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