CPH students honored at American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition

Students from the department of occupational and environmental health’s industrial hygiene program received several awards at the 2017 American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce) in Seattle.

The following students received honors for their research posters:

  • Changjie Cai – for his poster on the development of a portable aerosol sampler
  • Christie De Vito – for her poster on the effectiveness of hearing protection by agricultural and manufacturing workers
  • Samantha Knowlton – for her poster in the investigation of bioaerosols in hospitals

Copies of these and all student posters are available at https://i3hsa.org.uiowa.edu/student-posters-aihce-2017.

Corey Boles, Alyson Gray, Jason Clinger, and Changjie Cai were also recognized as recipients of scholarships endowed and named in honor of Dr. Clyde Berry. Berry received a PhD from the University of Iowa 1941 and committed his career to industrial hygiene practice.

Additionally, Cai received an American Industrial Hygiene Foundation scholarship from the Real-Time Detection Systems committee and Clinger received the Dennis Pausternbach scholarship.

Pentella receives Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award

Michael Pentella, clinical professor of epidemiology at the UI College of Public Health, has received the 2017 Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award from the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL).

Pentella was previously the associate director for infectious disease at the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory where he was responsible for bacteriology, virology, serology, parasitology, and mycology and was actively involved with bioterrorism preparedness, antimicrobial resistance and pandemic influenza planning. He was formerly director of the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Massachusetts.

The Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award honors a laboratorian with over 10 years of related service in the field of biosafety and biosecurity in a state and/or local public health laboratory. According to APHL, honorees are recognized leaders both within their home laboratories and on a national level (by serving in leadership roles on national committees and taskforces, for example).

Honorees are also instrumental in providing technical and public presentations and publications, developing/advocating for best practices in biosafety/biosecurity, Identifying and presenting emerging issues in the field, conducting or promoting research that lead to improvements or advancing policy in the field of biosafety/biosecurity.

Award recipients were honored during a ceremony at the 2017 APHL Annual Meeting & Eleventh Government Environmental Laboratory Conference in Providence, RI.

A full list of this year’s APHL award recipients is available at: http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/public-health-laboratory-leaders-honored-by-aphl-2221672.htm

Research: farmers still take own lives at a high rate

The number of suicides among farmers and farmworkers in the United States has remained stubbornly high since the end of the 1980s farm crisis, much higher than workers in many other industries, according to a new study from the University of Iowa.

The study examined suicides and homicides among farmers and agricultural workers across the country from 1992 to 2010 and found 230 farmers committed suicide during that time, an annual suicide rate that ranged from 0.36 per 100,000 farmers to 0.95 per 100,000. The rate is well above that of workers in all other occupations, which never exceeded 0.19 per 100,000 during the same time period.

The 1992 to 2010 rate is not as high as the 1980s, when more than 1,000 farmers took their own lives because they were losing their farms to foreclosure, but study co-author Corinne Peek-Asa, professor of occupational and environmental health in the UI College of Public Health, says the new numbers still are excessive.

“Occupational factors such as poor access to quality health care, isolation, and financial stress interact with life factors to continue to place farmers at a disproportionately high risk for suicide,” she says.

The survey found farmers in the West were more likely to commit suicide, at 43 percent of total farmer suicides, followed by the Midwest (37 percent), South (13 percent), and Northeast (6 percent).

As in the 1980s, financial issues continue to cause some suicides, especially during economic crises or periods of extreme weather, Peek-Asa says. But farmers face an array of other stresses that put them at high risk for suicide: physical isolation from a social network, leading to loneliness; physical pain from the arduous work of farming; and lack of available health care resources in rural areas, especially mental health care. She says other research also suggests that exposure to chemical insecticides causes depression in some people.

In addition, Peek-Asa says, farm culture dictates that farmers who may have physical or psychological needs should just suck it up and go about their work.

Finally, farmers have access to lethal means because many of them own weapons. The rifle they use to chase off coyotes can easily be turned on themselves.

Peek-Asa says farmers are different from workers in most other fields in that their work is a significant part of their identity, not just a job. When the farm faces difficulties, many see it as a sign of personal failure.

“They struggle with their ability to carve out the role they see for themselves as farmers. They can’t take care of their family; they feel like they have fewer and fewer options and can’t dig themselves out,” Peek-Asa says. “Eventually, suicide becomes an option.”

Peek-Asa says policy solutions would include include improving rural economies, increasing social networks in rural areas, and improving access to health care and mental health services in rural areas.

Beyond that, she says improving the quality of life in rural communities also is important, pointing to UI programs that contribute to that, such as the mobile museum or Hancher’s summer art outreach program that brings arts and cultural opportunities to towns and cities across Iowa.

The study, “Trends and Characteristics of Occupational Suicide in Farmers and Agriculture Workers,” was published in the Journal of Rural Health. It was co-authored by Kelley Donham, UI professor emeritus in the College of Public Health; Marizen Ramirez of the University of Minnesota and visiting associate professor in the UI College of Public Health; and Wendy Ringgenberg of Des Moines University.

Additional Media Coverage

Radio Iowa
http://www.radioiowa.com/2017/06/13/study-shows-suicide-rates-among-farmers-remain-higher-than-other-occupations/

EurekAlert
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-06/uoi-la1061217.php

Business Standard – India
http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/occupational-and-life-factors-behind-farmer-suicides-us-study-117061300800_1.html

Financial Express – India
http://www.financialexpress.com/world-news/occupational-and-life-factors-behind-farmer-suicides-us-study/716235/

Study examines link between obesity, food container chemical substitutes

A new study from the University of Iowa shows that a pair of common chemicals that manufacturers use to make plastic food containers, water bottles, and other consumer products do not contribute to obesity to the extent of the chemical it’s replacing.

The chemicals — bisphenol F and bisphenol S (known as BPF and BPS) — are being used increasingly by food packaging manufacturers as substitutes for bisphenol A (BPA), which studies have found disrupts endocrine systems and causes numerous health problems. BPA is used in many kinds of packaging for snacks and drinks, canned foods, and water bottles. The chemical is absorbed into the body mainly through the food or water it contacts in the container.

But concern was raised several years ago when numerous studies found BPA increases the risk of various health issues, in particular obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. A consumer backlash erupted after the studies received media attention so manufacturers started reducing the use of BPA in some consumer products or even eliminating it in so-called “BPA-free” products by replacing it with such alternatives as BPF and BPS.

However, little is known on the potential impact of BPF and BPS exposure in humans. The new University of Iowa College of Public Health study is the first to determine the health impacts of BPF and BPS exposure on obesity in humans. Using data from a nationwide population-based study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the researchers confirm that BPA is associated with increased obesity in humans. But the study found no links between obesity and either BPF or BPS at the current exposure levels.

However, the researchers warn that fewer products currently use BPF and BPS–BPA still has more than half the global market share for the chemicals, and the average concentration of BPF and BPS is about one-fourth that of BPA in the US population. Whether BPF and BPS pose an increased risk of obesity at the same population exposure levels as BPA remains unknown. Future studies will be needed to confirm the results, as BPF and BPS are likely to replace BPA in more consumer products.

The study, “Bisphenol A substitutes and obesity in US adults; analysis of a population-based cross-sectional study,” is published in the June 2017 issue of the Lancet Planetary Health.

The research team included lead author Buyun Liu, along with Yangbo Sun, Guifeng Xu, Robert B. Wallace, and Wei Bao (corresponding author) from the Department of Epidemiology and Hans-Joachim Lehmler from the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health in the University of Iowa College of Public Health. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health through the University of Iowa Environmental Health Sciences Research Center (NIEHS/NIH P30 ES005605).

Additional Media Coverage

EurekAlert
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-06/uoi-uoi060817.php

Men’s Fitness
http://www.mensfitness.com/life/gearandtech/bpa-replacements-bpf-and-bps-arent-linked-fat-bellies

Biotecnika-India
https://www.biotecnika.org/2017/06/beware-are-those-packaged-foods-making-you-obese/