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EHS In the News

Our research makes the headlines. Leading news organizations frequently feature our department’s experts discussing the impacts of the environment on health. Below are select clips from 2018 and 2017.

 

2018

 

Ban entire pesticide class to protect children's health, experts say, The Guardian, October 24
Another of the new report’s co-authors, Prof Robin Whyatt of Columbia University’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health in New York, said the decreased IQs among children that OPs could trigger would be of the order of five to six points and “would probably not have a huge impact”. “The problem is that when you have an exposure as ubiquitous as this, you get distributional shifts in IQ, with fewer people in the brilliant range and more in the lower ranges of IQ,” she said.
 
Gas Station Toxic Fume Emissions Are 10 Times Higher Than Thought, Study FindsNewsweek, October 7
“There are several unique aspects of our study which have not been considered before,” Markus Hilpert, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University and first author on the paper, told Newsweek. He said this is the first study published in peer-reviewed literature that’s measured vent pipe emissions at gas stations at these rates.

Climate and city density key factors governing flu outbreaks: Study, AxiosOctober 4 
…The study "does not show that some cities are safer than others for flu" — just that different types of patterns are emerging, which tended to be consistent for that city over that time period. And Jeffrey Shaman, director of Columbia University's climate and health program, said the results don't yet provide enough information to be useful for providing flu control solutions.
  
In battle over pesticide ban, Trump's EPA aims to undermine the scienceScience Magazine, August 24
After the court's rebuke, EPA took aim at a study from Columbia University's Center for Children's Environmental Health in New York City that showed the troubling real-world impacts of chlorpyrifos on children that helped prompt the ban.
“We cannot submit this extensive individual level data to EPA in a way that ensures the confidentiality of the children and mothers who are our research subjects,”
Dr. Linda Fried, the dean of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, told the agency in May 2016.
 
Trump's coal emissions rollbacks will be bad for country's health, experts sayCNN Outline, August 20
"There is no such thing as a safe level of pollution. It's that simple. Any pollution is bad. There is no doubt about this," said Dr. Andrea Baccarelli, chairman of the Environmental Health Sciences Department at Columbia University, adding that reducing the standard by any amount will have negative health consequences. "It's clear that relaxing the standards could cost lives."
 
Residents say Love Canal chemicals continue to make them sickPBS NewsHour, August 5 
Forty years ago this week, President Jimmy Carter declared Love Canal a national health emergency when the small community near Niagara Falls, New York, learned that their homes and school were built on 22,000 tons of chemicals. Today, many residents in the area, which was deemed safe by authorities, claim to be facing health problems. … Ana Navas-Acien is a physician and epidemiologist at Columbia University who studies public health near Superfund sites. She says, “Its good news that the wells show no signs of contamination.”

City Cyclists: Here’s How Much Pollution you’re Actually Inhaling, 2018, VICE, July 24
"What really matters for health is dose, and dose is a function of two things. Number one how much air pollution is in the air. And number two how much you are breathing,” says Darby Jack, an assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University. 

Primary Probes, Manhattan Times, July 11
Since its founding in 1998, the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) has used a variety of methodologies to study the effects of environmental pollutants on pregnant women and children. Part of Columbia University Medical Center’s Mailman School of Public Health, CCCEH was established when an interdisciplinary team of Columbia researchers received funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create one of eight centers nationwide devoted to studying children’s environmental health.
  
Hawaii Just Became The First State To Ban A sbPesticide Linked To Developmental Delays In Kids, BUZZFEED NEWSJune 13
An earlier study by the same group of researchers at Columbia University’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health in New York looked at 265 children and found prenatal exposure was linked to IQ deficits and working memory problems at age 7.
  
Concerns Raised Over E-Cigs Growing Popularity Among TeensNY1, April 24
Interview with Ana Navas-Acien, Environmental Health Sciences professor, Mailman School of Public Health
"Young people are getting access to nicotine in this new form is concerning because we know that nicotine is very addictive, so the potential for them to get addicted to tobacco products, to nicotine, and maybe later on to switch from e-cigarettes."
 
Vaping now an epidemic among US high schoolersCNN, April 6 
A sharp spike in vaping and the use of e-cigarettes by students has grabbed the attention of the US Food and Drug Administration. .... Dr. Ana Navas-Acien, a professor of environmental health sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, recently released a study.
  
Single Intervention Cockroach Bait-Trapping Can Improve Clinical Asthma Outcomes, MD Magazine, March 9 
Matthew Perzanowski, PhD, an associate Professor of Columbia University School of Public Health presented an overview of the NYC Neighborhood Asthma and Allergy Study examining exposures leading to sensitization followed by asthma. …He emphasized that researchers must think in terms of public health in order to reduce asthma. New York City recently passed the Asthma Free Housing Act to give New York City residents the right to live in homes free of mold, pests, and indoor health hazards. 
  
A Look At How This Year's Flu Vaccine Is Holding UpNY1, January 18
Jeffrey Shaman, an environmental health scientist at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University says this flu season is unique. "It wasn't a gradual build towards it, it really built up in mid and late December," Shaman said.
 
170 Million Americans Have Cancer-Causing, Radioactive Elements In Their Drinking WaterNewsweek, January 11 
And around 38 percent of Americans had radium concentrations that exceeded another standard: California state scientists' public health goals from ... of environmental chemicals in drinking water,” Dr. Ana Navas-Acien, environmental health sciences professor at Columbia University, told Newsweek. “It’s surprising to see that the standard for radium has not been updated since 1976,” she said. “We have a much larger body of scientific evidence that has been developed since then that should have been able to inform new updates [for the] maximum contaminant level for radium.”

2017

Air Pollution May Weaken the BonesNew York Times,  November 29
“Air pollution is like diluted smoking,” said the senior author, Andrea A. Baccarelli, a professor of environmental medicine at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “Smoking causes cancer, cardiovascular disease and bone mineral density loss. So does air pollution. Even at pollution levels the Environmental Protection Agency considers acceptable, there is still an increased risk.”
 
Trump’s E.P.A. Pledges to Clean Up NYC’s ‘Most Radioactive Site' – But Funding Is in Question, WNYC Radio, November 6
Norman Kleiman, director of the Eye Radiation and Environmental Research Laboratory at Columbia University, said the E.P.A. had an obligation to clean up the site. Radiation there is "well above the average terrestrial exposure even in New York City,” Kleinman told WNYC. "People are especially concerned about exposure,” Kleinman added, “and from a public policy and public health point of view, it's important to allay fear."
 
Arsenic Reductions in Drinking Water Tied to Fewer Cancer Deaths, New York TimesOctober 24
The senior author, Dr. Ana Navas-Acien, a professor of environmental health sciences at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said that water treatment to remove arsenic is expensive and a challenge for smaller cities. “We are trying to provide information in a way that’s useful for policymakers,” she said. “If we could eliminate arsenic entirely, it would be ideal. But we have to be realistic.”
 
Seal Meat, Gold Mining: How Lower-Income Women Are Exposed To MercuryNPR, October 3 
The potential harm to the development of the fetal brain is of special concern, says Joseph Graziano, professor of environmental health sciences and pharmacology at Columbia University. "You get just once chance," he says. "When the damage is done, the damage is done and there's no going back."
 
A Race to Develop Pollution Sensing Tech Plays Out in OaklandWIRED, June 5
The question isn’t whether or not air pollution is bad for health. “There’s quite a strong consensus that air pollution exposures are quite bad for you,” says Darby Jack, an environmental health scientist at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.  

The Womb is No Protection from Toxic ChemicalsNew York Times, June 1   
Opinion piece by Frederica Perera

Air Pollution Denial Is the New Climate DenialNew Republic, March 15 
“There’s this issue if this data becomes public, will anyone be able to go and knock on these people’s doors?” said Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou, an environmental health professor at Columbia University… Kioumourtzoglou says this is a fundamental misunderstanding of how scientists classify cause of death. When people die, they are given an International Classification of Diseases (ICD) code to signify what happened, and there is no ICD code for pollution. “If you died of a heart attack, you get the ICD code for a heart attack,” she said. “If exposure to PM2.5 has caused a heart attack, on your death certificate, it would still say heart attack, not PM2.5.”
 
Scientists Find a Way to Predict West Nile OutbreakR & D Magazine, February 24
Scientists at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have developed a method to accurately predict the timing and intensity of West Nile Virus outbreaks…In the study, DeFelice and Jeffrey Shaman, an associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia’s Mailman School, developed the model by drawing on field collection data documenting mosquito infection rates and reported human cases, accounting for transmission between mosquitos and birds and spillover to human beings.
  
Wind, Rain, Heat: Health Risks Grow with Extreme Weather, Live Science,  February 17
Kim Knowlton, an assistant clinical professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, who also spoke at the meeting, elaborated on the health risks posed by heat. "There is a clear warming trend and that threatens health," Knowlton said. "Heat waves, which are extreme heat events that last several days, are the No. 1 cause of U.S. weather fatalities, on average, over the last 30 years," she said.
 
Protect Our Children's BrainsNew York Times, February 3
Several studies led by Virginia Rauh, a neuro-epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health, found that children in New York City who had been most highly exposed to chlorpyrifos in utero when it was still in widespread use in homes showed persistent developmental effects.
 
Can a cleaner cookstove save lives?PBS NewsHour, February 1
Professor Darby Jack at Columbia University (assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health) is a partner with the Ghanaians on the project, supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. ... Darby Jack, Columbia University said “We recruit women during pregnancy, and we give them a clean-burning cookstove, either LPG, which is the propane or butane, the same thing you probably cook with in your backyard grill, or a stove called the BioLite, which is an efficient biomass burning stove, and can reduce emissions by about half.”