A new guide for health care providers is designed to help them reduce their patients’ exposure to radioactive radon gas, the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality in the United States, which is estimated to cause about 21,100 lung cancer deaths per year.
The guide, Reducing the Risk From Radon: Information and Interventions, was developed and drafted by UI Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health and Epidemiology William Field in collaboration with the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“Health care providers play a key role in reducing their patients’ exposure to unnecessary radiation,” the report states. “With the rate of medical imaging and related radiation exposure increasing, it is even more crucial to reduce radiation exposure from other sources, including radon.”
The guide has updated information on:
Radon statistics and public health impact.
The science behind risk estimates.
Radon testing and reduction.
Sample guidance for use in health care settings.
The role of health care providers in reducing the burden of radon-induced lung cancer.
R. William “Bill” Field, CPH professor of occupational and environmental health, will be awarded a 2017 Iowa Cancer Champion Award at the Iowa Cancer Summit Oct. 18 in Ankeny, Iowa.
Field, a nationally recognized radon expert, was nominated by Gail Orcutt of Pleasant Hill and Julie Weisshaar of Creston. He was nominated for championing policy and systems change to reduce exposure to radon and ultimately reduce radon-induced lung cancer in Iowa.
Weisshaar writes, “He helped identify radon as the leading environmental cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and remains dedicated to educating the public about the health risks of radon and ways to reduce exposure in homes, schools and at work.”
Among the efforts referenced in Fields’s nominations, were his leadership of the Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study, acting as a scientific advisor for the School Radon Training & Support System, leading advocacy to develop policy requiring school radon testing, and advocating for required radon testing with real estate sales and required radon mitigation systems in new home construction.
Field serves as a member of United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board as well as a presidential appointee on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health. He is also the Deputy Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s funded Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety based at the University of Iowa.
The awards will be presented from 11:00-11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny, Iowa.
Researchers at the UI College of Public Health will use a “collaboratory” approach for two projects that tackle public health concerns. Funded by the Iowa Institute of Public Health Research and Policy (IIPHRP), the first project will investigate health risks from exposure to insecticides, and the second will work to improve health outcomes for low-birth-weight and premature children.
“A collaboratory is a creative group process designed to solve complex problems,” says Vickie Miene, interim director of the IIPHRP. “The process generates the opportunity for new organizational networks to form. This approach expands the scope, scale, and impact of public health research.”
The projects, which were selected through a competitive application process, provide an opportunity to gather collaborators from different backgrounds and disciplines around a topic to develop an innovative research proposal. A successful collaboratory stimulates an aspirational research proposal such as a large research service or center grant that bolsters and builds upon areas of research closely linked to the college’s three collective areas of excellence: rural health, comparative effectiveness research, and community engagement. The collaboratory leverages existing strengths within the college, while fostering new collaborations within and outside the University of Iowa.
Human Exposure and Health Risks from Neonicotinoid Insecticides
Bill Field, professor of occupational and environmental health, is the leader of the Collaboratory to Identify Human Exposure and Health Risks from Neonicotinoid Insecticides. Neonicotinoids are a relatively new class of insecticide, but have become the most widely used class of agricultural insecticides in the world.
Historically, neonicotinoid insecticides have been viewed as ideal replacements for more toxic compounds, such as organophosphates, due in part to their perceived limited potential to impact the environment and human health. Within the agricultural sector, they are preferred over other pesticides for several reasons, including their ability to be applied using a variety of methods; lower toxicity in birds, fish, and mammals; and high selectivity and potency for insects.
Few studies have been conducted to characterize human exposure to neonicotinoids or the insecticides’ potential health risks. The collaborative team will develop the infrastructure and preliminary data required to investigate the emerging potential risks of neonicotinoid exposure.
To the researchers’ knowledge, the collaborative is the first group in the U.S. to directly evaluate the potential human exposure of neonicotinoid insecticides. The study is also the first to assess neonicotinoid insecticide contamination in private wells used for drinking water, and the first to validate biomarkers necessary for future neonicotinoid-human health investigations.
Members of the team include: Wei Bao, MD, PhD; Susie Dai, PhD; Manuel Gadogbe, PhD; Michelle Hladik, PhD; Christopher Jones, PhD; Dana Kolpin, MS; Hans-Joachim Lehmler, PhD; Bob Libra, MS; Charles Lynch, MD, PhD; Keith Schilling, PhD; Darrin Thompson, MPH; John Vargo, PhD; and Peter Weyer, PhD.
The collaborative has also received letters of support from the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination, Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety, Agricultural Health Study, Environmental Health Sciences Research Center, the Iowa Registry for Congenital and Inherited Disorders, Iowa Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa, and U.S. Geological Survey.
Iowa Perinatal Health Research Collaborative
Kelli Ryckman, associate professor of epidemiology, is the leader of the Iowa Perinatal Health Research Collaborative (IPHRC). The central mission of the IPHRC is to develop a network of perinatal care providers and public health professionals working to improve the health outcomes of children born low birth weight (LBW) and/or preterm through innovative and multidisciplinary research initiatives.
Advances in neonatal intensive care have drastically reduced perinatal mortality related to LBW and/or preterm births. In infants born before 27 completed weeks of gestation, there is a 65% chance of survival and a 56% chance of survival without severe impairment, nationally. In Iowa, survival without severe impairment is even higher.
Follow-up of “high risk” infants is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics; however, standard guidelines are lacking on how long follow-up should occur and which infants qualify as “high risk.” Individuals identified for further follow-up widely varies based on the resource availability, and children who may benefit from resources or specialized programs are undoubtedly missed or excluded. This underscores the need for perinatal research collaboratives that bring together providers, public health care professionals, and families to identify outcomes and health care utilization gaps for children born LBW and/or preterm.
The project will focus on three intersecting thematic areas:
The Database Development thematic area will establish a statewide database of children born LBW and/or preterm that provides a platform for outcomes research, quality improvement initiatives, and interventions.
The Health Services and Outcomes thematic area will develop a hospital services and outcomes data source to better understand the health care needs and outcomes in this population of Iowa children.
The Family and Community Engagement thematic area will engage families in research initiatives and provide and promote existing resources for families.
Team members include Mary Charlton, assistant professor of epidemiology; John Dagle, professor of pediatrics; and Lane Strathearn, professor of pediatrics and co-director of the University of Iowa Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. In addition, graduate students Allison Momany and Nichole Nidey will contribute to this work.
Bill Field, CPH professor of occupational and environmental health, has been reappointed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board effective immediately through Sept. 30, 2018.
Field brings expertise in radiation epidemiology and risk assessment to the board, whose members provide independent expert advice on technical issues underlying EPA policies and decision-making.
“Board members’ scientific and technical expertise, experience, and innovation play critical roles in the success of the EPA’s approach to effective environmental protection,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy wrote in a letter to Field. “I rely on the board for the expert guidance that is essential to the EPA’s ability to protect public health and the environment.”