EOH Faculty & Research News

Gov. Wolf awards Pitt Public Health $2.5M to study health impacts of fracking

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT -  Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has awarded a $2.5 million contract to research the potential health effects of hydraulic fracturing in the state in two epidemiological studies to be conducted over the next two years. EPI's Evelyn Talbott will investigate the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and the development of childhood cancers, while BIOS' Jeanine Buchanich will examine acute conditions, such as asthma and birth ... 

Trump administration keeps existing smog limits, rejecting calls to toughen them

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THE WASHINGTON POST - EOH's Bernard Goldstein, who is a former assistant administrator for research and development at the EPA, faulted EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler with failing to take COVID-19 into account when setting standards for either ozone or fine particles. “There were so many ways he could have done it,” Goldstein said. “Instead, what he did was to ignore it.”   

Lead in game meat a health risk for hunting families and food bank recipients

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THE ALLEGHENY FRONT - In an extensive podcast interview, MPH student Samantha Totoni (EOH '21) discusses the risks of lead shot in hunted meat.  Scientists have found concentrations of lead more than 100 times the limit in the meat of lead shot carcasses, which can be particularly dangerous if the meat is ground and donated to food banks. PA has no inspection requirement for game meat donations.    

Lagged Association of Ambient Outdoor Air Pollutants with Asthma-Related Emergency Department Visits within the Pittsburgh Region

Brandy M. Byrwa-Hill, Arvind Venkat, Albert A. Presto, Judith R. Rager, Deborah Gentile, and Evelyn Talbott find an association between O 3 exposure in children and NO 2 and CO exposure in adults and asthma-related ED visits within the greater Pittsburgh area.   

Study shows how HIV and cancer drugs accelerate cellular aging

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INSIDE LIVE CHANGING MEDICINE - Why do HIV patients tend to show premature signs of aging: cancer, cognitive diseases, osteoporosis? Is the virus itself is causing aging or the drugs being used to treat the virus? In a new study published in Nature Communications , doctoral student Samantha Sanford (EOH '21) found that HIV drugs hasten aging by blocking telomeres—the protective tips on the end of our chromosomes—from replenishing themselves. ... 

Exempt from inspection: States ignore lead-contaminated meat in food banks

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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NEWS -  Food banks in the U.S. are on course for a preventable collision between record-setting food insecurity and lead-contaminated meat. Though hunter-donated meat provides crucial protein to U.S. food banks, a lack of oversight could result in potentially hundreds of thousands of lead-contaminated meals this year according to a recent article by MPH student Samantha Totoni (EOH '21).  

Goldstein says EPA should consider COVID-19 for its standards

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE – Dean Emeritus Bernard Goldstein asserts that the agency has ignored a Clean Air Act mandate as well as the congressional specification of what factors should be considered in setting an “adequate margin of safety” for air quality impact. The proposal fails to consider factors affecting sensitive populations in the pandemic, including the elderly and those with pre-existing lung and heart disease.  

EOH's Wenzel named winner of ATS AII Scientific Accomplishment Award

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EOH's Sally Wenzel has won the American Thoracic Society's AII Scientific Accomplishment Award.Dr. Wenzel’s remarkable research contributions over the years have significantly improved our understanding of asthma pathogenesis and directly impacted approach to treatment. Dr. Wenzel has developed an unparalleled translational program to study asthma’s pathobiology and mechanisms and is one of the key scientists who established the concept of asthm... 

University draws on own experts to guide health and safety decisions

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PITTWIRE - The new Healthcare Advisory Group, headed by Anantha Shekhar, new senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of Pitt Med, will monitor the health status of the campus and ensure compliance with legal regulations. Members, including HPM’s Mark Roberts, EPI’s Anne Newman, EOH’s Sally Wenzel, will develop recommendations for the Pitt community.  

Fabisiak/Brink study highlights environmental injustice in Pittsburgh: Poor, minority neighborhoods see higher rates of deaths from air pollution

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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NEWS – EOH's James Fabisiak EPI's LuAnn Brink (IDM '98, EPI '96) estimate that 40 percent of the county's air pollution-related heart disease deaths occur where 20 percent or more individuals live in poverty and/or 30 percent or more are a racial minority. Study data will be used to evaluate the impact of environmental justice on the health of our county communities.  

Di, Deslouches, and Montelaro develop promising antibiotic molecule for drug-resistant infections

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CISTIC FIBROSIS NEWS TODAY - With the rising prevalence of superbugs, researchers are turning their attention to antibiotic molecules. Study co-authors Y. Peter Di (EOH), Berthony Deslouches (EOH), and Ronald Montelaro (IDM) have engineered a cationic antimicrobial peptide named WLBU2, licensed by Pitt spin-off Peptilogics, that's now in a clinical trial for preventing infections associated with knee and hip replacements.  

Can air pollution make coronavirus worse? Wenzel says yes.

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ALLEGHENY FRONT - There’s plenty of biological evidence, said Sally Wenzel, EOH chair. Pollution can damage cells that line breathing passageways, which form the lung’s natural defense from foreign agents. “When they’re damaged, they don’t function nearly as well as a barrier. And so things like viruses can get through that barrier and into the body, into the deeper spaces of the body.”  

Wenzel explains how to handle package deliveries

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE – EOH Chair Sally Wenzel says, “The easiest way to make sure that you aren’t bringing the virus in with your packages is to treat the package as though a COVID-19 positive person last handled it: Wipe off all items before putting them away, throw out your packaging and wash your hands.” Another tip: Plastic gloves might be hard to come by these days, but sandwich bags can protect in a pinch.  

Wenzel on the burning problem of America’s sugar cane growers

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BLOOMBERG QUINT - Sally Wenzel, EOH professor and director of Pitt Medical Center's Asthma Institute, says that “The only way to answer the question” as to whether sugarcane burning is the direct cause of the respiratory issues that residents experience “is with a better level of granularity—to do a person-based study, as opposed to a population-based study” such as the ones published so far.  

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