879 research outputs found

    Geocoding Large Population‐level Administrative Datasets at Highly Resolved Spatial Scales

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    Using geographic information systems to link administrative databases with demographic, social, and environmental data allows researchers to use spatial approaches to explore relationships between exposures and health. Traditionally, spatial analysis in public health has focused on the county, ZIP code, or tract level because of limitations to geocoding at highly resolved scales. Using 2005 birth and death data from North Carolina, we examine our ability to geocode population‐level datasets at three spatial resolutions – zip code, street, and parcel. We achieve high geocoding rates at all three resolutions, with statewide street geocoding rates of 88.0% for births and 93.2% for deaths. We observe differences in geocoding rates across demographics and health outcomes, with lower geocoding rates in disadvantaged populations and the most dramatic differences occurring across the urban‐rural spectrum. Our results suggest that highly resolved spatial data architectures for population‐level datasets are viable through geocoding individual street addresses. We recommend routinely geocoding administrative datasets to the highest spatial resolution feasible, allowing public health researchers to choose the spatial resolution used in analysis based on an understanding of the spatial dimensions of the health outcomes and exposures being investigated. Such research, however, must acknowledge how disparate geocoding success across subpopulations may affect findings.Peer Reviewedhttp://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/108258/1/tgis12052.pd

    Development of an analytical method to quantify PBDEs, OH-BDEs, HBCDs, 2,4,6-TBP, EH-TBB, and BEH-TEBP in human serum

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    Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) flame retardants (FRs) were phased-out in the mid-2000s (penta- and octaBDE) and 2013 (decaBDE); however, their hydroxylated metabolites (OH-BDEs) are still commonly detected in human serum. Today, novel FRs such as Firemaster® 550, a mixture that contains two brominated compounds, EH-TBB and BEH-TEBP are used as replacements for PBDEs in some applications, and there is a need to develop a comprehensive analytical method to assess exposure to both legacy PBDEs and novel FRs. This study developed a solid-phase extraction (SPE)-based method to analyze PBDEs, OH-BDEs, 2,4,6-tribromophenol (TBP), hexabromocylcododecane isomers (HBCDs), EH-TBB, and BEH-TEBP in human serum. Briefly, serum proteins were first denatured with formic acid, and then the target analytes were isolated using a SPE column. Finally, the extract was cleaned and fractioned using a silica SPE column. Method performance was assessed by spiking fetal bovine serum with 1–2 ng of the target analytes, and method accuracy was quantified by comparison to a serum Standard Reference Material (SRM). The developed method showed good recovery and accuracy for all target analytes with the exception of the very low and very high molecular weight PBDE congeners. Using this method, 43 serum samples collected from the Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby Study (HPHB) cohort in Durham, NC, USA were analyzed for FRs. A novel finding was the ubiquitous detection of 2,4,6-TBP, at levels greater than the individual PBDE congeners. Furthermore, 2,4,6-TBP was positively correlated with PBDEs, suggesting that they may have a similar source of exposure, or that 2,4,6-TBP may result from metabolism of PBDEs in vivo

    Mapping for prevention: GIS models for directing childhood lead poisoning prevention programs.

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    Environmental threats to children's health--especially low-level lead exposure--are complex and multifaceted; consequently, mitigation of these threats has proven costly and insufficient and has produced economic and racial disparities in exposure among populations. Policy makers, public health officials, child advocates, and others currently lack the appropriate infrastructure to evaluate children's risk and exposure potential across a broad range of risks. Unable to identify where the highest risk of exposure occurs, children's environmental health programs remain mitigative instead of preventive. In this article we use geographic information system spatial analysis of data from blood lead screening, county tax assessors, and the U.S. Census to predict statistically based lead exposure risk levels mapped at the individual tax parcel unit in six counties in North Carolina. The resulting model uses weighted risk factors to spatially locate modeled exposure zones, thus highlighting critical areas for targeted intervention. The methods presented here hold promise for application and extension to the other 94 North Carolina counties and nationally, as well as to other environmental health risks

    GIS Modeling of Air Toxics Releases from TRI-Reporting and Non-TRI-Reporting Facilities: Impacts for Environmental Justice

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    The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) requires facilities with 10 or more full-time employees that process > 25,000 pounds in aggregate or use > 10,000 pounds of any one TRI chemical to report releases annually. However, little is known about releases from non-TRI-reporting facilities, nor has attention been given to the very localized equity impacts associated with air toxics releases. Using geographic information systems and industrial source complex dispersion modeling, we developed methods for characterizing air releases from TRI-reporting as well as non-TRI-reporting facilities at four levels of geographic resolution. We characterized the spatial distribution and concentration of air releases from one representative industry in Durham County, North Carolina (USA). Inclusive modeling of all facilities rather than modeling of TRI sites alone significantly alters the magnitude and spatial distribution of modeled air concentrations. Modeling exposure receptors at more refined levels of geographic resolution reveals localized, neighborhood-level exposure hot spots that are not apparent at coarser geographic scales. Multivariate analysis indicates that inclusive facility modeling at fine levels of geographic resolution reveals exposure disparities by income and race. These new methods significantly enhance the ability to model air toxics, perform equity analysis, and clarify conflicts in the literature regarding environmental justice findings. This work has substantial implications for how to structure TRI reporting requirements, as well as methods and types of analysis that will successfully elucidate the spatial distribution of exposure potentials across geographic, income, and racial lines

    A Framework for Widespread Replication of a Highly Spatially Resolved Childhood Lead Exposure Risk Model

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    Background Preventive approaches to childhood lead poisoning are critical for addressing this longstanding environmental health concern. Moreover, increasing evidence of cognitive effects of blood lead levels < 10 μg/dL highlights the need for improved exposure prevention interventions. Objectives Geographic information system–based childhood lead exposure risk models, especially if executed at highly resolved spatial scales, can help identify children most at risk of lead exposure, as well as prioritize and direct housing and health-protective intervention programs. However, developing highly resolved spatial data requires labor-and time-intensive geocoding and analytical processes. In this study we evaluated the benefit of increased effort spent geocoding in terms of improved performance of lead exposure risk models. Methods We constructed three childhood lead exposure risk models based on established methods but using different levels of geocoded data from blood lead surveillance, county tax assessors, and the 2000 U.S. Census for 18 counties in North Carolina. We used the results to predict lead exposure risk levels mapped at the individual tax parcel unit. Results The models performed well enough to identify high-risk areas for targeted intervention, even with a relatively low level of effort on geocoding. Conclusions This study demonstrates the feasibility of widespread replication of highly spatially resolved childhood lead exposure risk models. The models guide resource-constrained local health and housing departments and community-based organizations on how best to expend their efforts in preventing and mitigating lead exposure risk in their communities

    Making the Environmental Justice Grade: The Relative Burden of Air Pollution Exposure in the United States

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    This paper assesses whether the Clean Air Act and its Amendments have been equally successful in ensuring the right to healthful air quality in both advantaged and disadvantaged communities in the United States. Using a method to rank air quality established by the American Lung Association in its 2009 State of the Air report along with EPA air quality data, we assess the environmental justice dimensions of air pollution exposure and access to air quality information in the United States. We focus on the race, age, and poverty demographics of communities with differing levels of ozone and particulate matter exposure, as well as communities with and without air quality information. Focusing on PM2.5 and ozone, we find that within areas covered by the monitoring networks, non-Hispanic blacks are consistently overrepresented in communities with the poorest air quality. The results for older and younger age as well as poverty vary by the pollution metric under consideration. Rural areas are typically outside the bounds of air quality monitoring networks leaving large segments of the population without information about their ambient air quality. These results suggest that substantial areas of the United States lack monitoring data, and among areas where monitoring data are available, low income and minority communities tend to experience higher ambient pollution levels

    Concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and 2,4,6-tribromophenol in human placental tissues

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    Legacy environmental contaminants such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are widely detected in human tissues. However, few studies have measured PBDEs in placental tissues, and there are no reported measurements of 2,4,6-tribromophenol (2,4,6-TBP) in placental tissues. Measurements of these contaminants are important for understanding potential fetal exposures, as these compounds have been shown to alter thyroid hormone regulation in vitro and in vivo. In this study, we measured a suite of PBDEs and 2,4,6-TBP in 102 human placental tissues collected between 2010 and 2011 in Durham County, North Carolina, USA. The most abundant PBDE congener detected was BDE-47, with a mean concentration of 5.09 ng/g lipid (range: 0.12–141 ng/g lipid; detection frequency 91%); however, 2,4,6-TBP was ubiquitously detected and present at higher concentrations with a mean concentration of 15.4 ng/g lipid (range:1.31–316 ng/g lipid; detection frequency 100%). BDE-209 was also detected in more than 50% of the samples, and was significantly associated with 2,4,6-TBP in placental tissues, suggesting they may have a similar source, or that 2,4,6-TBP may be a degradation product of BDE-209. Interestingly, BDE-209 and 2,4,6-TBP were negatively associated with age (rs = − 0.16; p = 0.10 and rs = − 0.17; p = 0.08, respectively). The results of this work indicate that PBDEs and 2,4,6-TBP bioaccumulate in human placenta tissue and likely contribute to prenatal exposures to these environmental contaminants. Future studies are needed to determine if these joint exposures are associated with any adverse health measures in infants and children

    Using Decision Analysis to Improve Malaria Control Policy Making

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    Malaria and other vector-borne diseases represent a significant and growing burden in many tropical countries. Successfully addressing these threats will require policies that expand access to and use of existing control methods, such as insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) and artemesinin combination therapies (ACTs) for malaria, while weighing the costs and benefits of alternative approaches over time. This paper argues that decision analysis provides a valuable framework for formulating such policies and combating the emergence and re-emergence of malaria and other diseases. We outline five challenges that policy makers and practitioners face in the struggle against malaria, and demonstrate how decision analysis can help to address and overcome these challenges. A prototype decision analysis framework for malaria control in Tanzania is presented, highlighting the key components that a decision support tool should include. Developing and applying such a framework can promote stronger and more effective linkages between research and policy, ultimately helping to reduce the burden of malaria and other vector-borne diseases

    The Relationship between Early Childhood Blood Lead Levels and Performance on End-of-Grade Tests

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    Background Childhood lead poisoning remains a critical environmental health concern. Low-level lead exposure has been linked to decreased performance on standardized IQ tests for school-aged children. Objective In this study we sought to determine whether blood lead levels in early childhood are related to educational achievement in early elementary school as measured by performance on end-of-grade (EOG) testing. Methods Educational testing data for 4th-grade students from the 2000–2004 North Carolina Education Research Data Center were linked to blood lead surveillance data for seven counties in North Carolina and then analyzed using exploratory and multivariate statistical methods. Results The discernible impact of blood lead levels on EOG testing is demonstrated for early childhood blood lead levels as low as 2 μg/dL. A blood lead level of 5 μg/dL is associated with a decline in EOG reading (and mathematics) scores that is roughly equal to 15% (14%) of the interquartile range, and this impact is very significant in comparison with the effects of covariates typically considered profoundly influential on educational outcomes. Early childhood lead exposures appear to have more impact on performance on the reading than on the mathematics portions of the tests. Conclusions Our emphasis on population-level analyses of children who are roughly the same age linked to previous (rather than contemporaneous) blood lead levels using achievement (rather than aptitude) outcome complements the important work in this area by previous researchers. Our results suggest that the relationship between blood lead levels and cognitive outcomes are robust across outcome measures and at low levels of lead exposure