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Environmental and Occupational Health
environmental and occupational health

Environmental and Occupational Health

Who's Making Sure
Our Environment
Isn't Making Us Sick?
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our research centers

Our Research Centers

Get involved in our research centers, where you can join a research project or help translate findings into practice and policy.
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our faculty

Our Faculty

Meet the faculty who will teach and mentor you, and learn about the innovative research projects they're directing.
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our alumni

Our Alumni

Read about what our graduates are doing in the environmental and occupational health field.
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Environmental and Occupational Health

The Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) Department has a sound reputation as a leader in training students to...

  • Identify agents that affect health
  • Study the long-term effects of environmental and occupational health risks
  • Determine the molecular mechanisms of toxic agents that contribute to the development of certain illnesses and diseases.

Environmental health specialists help find ways to promote healthier environments and minimize risks that increase the incidence of respiratory, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal diseases, asthma, lower respiratory infections, road traffic injuries, poisonings, and drownings.
Occupational health specialists study all aspects of health and safety in the workplace. From exposure to toxins on the job, to workplace violence and lifting injuries, occupational hazards create an enormous health burden, unnecessary pain and suffering, and economic loss in the workplace.

Find a research program for your interests

Many EOH faculty members collaborate with basic sciences and clinical investigators throughout other departments at Pitt Public Health, and the University of Pittsburgh schools of medicine and engineering. Students and faculty perform studies on the principles and practice of environmental health ranging from basic research at the cellular and molecular level to applied translational studies of human disease, population exposure, and public health studies.

In addition, faculty and students work with local governmental organizations, such as the Allegheny County Health Department, the Pittsburgh Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority to study and improve the environmental health of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Pursue a career in environmental and occupational health

Doctoral degree graduates are prepared to work in laboratory-based academic settings as faculty or postdoctoral fellows and become prominent members of government agencies and independent industries. Recent graduates have obtained fellowships at top-tier academic institutions, positions with
the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and in firms conducting chemical and environmental risk assessment.

Master's degree graduates play prominent roles as environmental/occupational health practitioners in various settings, including industry, hospitals, government agencies, and private practice.

Degrees

The EOH Department offers two degrees in the environmental health sciences, providing a broad theoretical and practical education for positions in academia, industry, or government. The multiple tracks provide flexibility in acquiring advance training in toxicology, environmental biophysics, molecular and cellular pathobiology, risk assessment, and exposure science.

Our professional degree program allows students to earn concentrations in environmental health or risk assessment and apply these concepts to public health practice.

 

Fabisiak comments on the region's cancer risk related to air pollution

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NEWS - A...
Fabisiak comments on the region's cancer risk related to air pollution

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NEWS - Around one in three Americans gets a cancer diagnosis during their lifetime. "If someone chooses to smoke, most of the risk will only impact them," said James Fabisiak. "When we think about air pollution, on the other hand, the risk is smaller than smoking but that risk ... (12/18/2018)

Travis Lear awarded predoctoral fellowship F31 award

Travis Lear (EOH '20) has bee...
Travis Lear awarded predoctoral fellowship F31 award

Travis Lear (EOH '20) has been awarded an F31 predoctoral fellowship from the NHLBI. His project will focus on the molecular mechanisms of dysregulated inflammation in the lung, which is the cause of several lung diseases and a major cause of morbidity and mortality in critically-ill patients.  (12/13/2018)

Sahu and Ambrosio find longevity protein rejuvenates muscle healing in old mice

UPMC - New research, develope...
Sahu and Ambrosio find longevity protein rejuvenates muscle healing in old mice

UPMC - New research, developed largely from Amrita Sahu's (EOH) thesis work, implicates the so-called “longevity protein” Klotho, both as culprit and therapeutic target to the inability for skeletal muscle to hear after injury as we get older. “We found that we were able to rescue, at least in part... (11/27/2018)

Kagan, Wenzel, Bayir partner to better understand cell death and ferroptosis

PITT MED - Cells die—that’s j...
Kagan, Wenzel, Bayir partner to better understand cell death and ferroptosis

PITT MED - Cells die—that’s just part of life. But there’s always a reason. Pitt scientists are figuring out how to keep programmed cell death in check. EOH's VALERIAN KAGAN and SALLY WENZEL and other colleagues including EOH's HULYA BAYIR, are partnering to better understand “the reason” for ferro... (10/09/2018)

Goldstein profiled in Risk Analysis

RISK ANALYSIS - Before joinin...
Goldstein profiled in Risk Analysis

RISK ANALYSIS - Before joining Pitt Public Health in 2001, BERNARD GOLDSTEIN, EOH professor and former dean, obtained his medical degree from NYU. In 1980, he was recruited by Rutgers Medical School to help with the increase in public and political concerns about environmental pollution. Later, he ... (10/01/2018)

 

Thu
1/17
EOH Journal Club
Metal Concentrations in e-Cigarette Liquid and Aerosol Samples: The Contribution of Metallic Coils EOH Journal Club
Metal Concentrations in e-Cigarette Liquid and Aerosol Samples: The Contribution of Metallic Coils
Thu 1/17 11:00AM - 12:00PM
4140 Public Health, Young Seminar Room

Presenter: Kimberly Garrett

Paper: Metal Concentrations in e-Cigarette Liquid and Aerosol Samples: The Contribution of Metallic Coils

Authors: Pablo Olmedo, Walter Goessler, Stefan Tanda, Maria Grau-Perez, Stephanie Jarmul, Angela Aherrera, Rui Chen, Markus Hilpert, Joanna E. Cohen, Ana Navas-Acien, and Ana M. Rul

Abstract:
BACKGROUND: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) generate an aerosol by heating a solution (e-liquid) with a metallic coil. Whether metals are transferred from the coil to the aerosol is unknown.

OBJECTIVE:Our goal was to investigate the transfer of metals from the heating coil to the e-liquid in the e-cigarette tank and the generated aerosol.

METHODS: We sampled 56 e-cigarette devices from daily e-cigarette users and obtained samples from the refilling dispenser, aerosol, and remaining e-liquid in the tank. Aerosol liquid was collected via deposition of aerosol droplets in a series of conical pipette tips. Metals were reported as mass fractions (lg=kg) in liquids and converted to mass concentrations (mg=m3) for aerosols.

RESULTS: Median metal concentrations (lg=kg) were higher in samples from the aerosol and tank vs. the dispenser (all p<0 :001): 16.3 and 31.2 vs. 10.9 for Al; 8.38 and 55.4 vs. <0:5 for Cr; 68.4 and 233 vs. 2.03 for Ni; 14.8 and 40.2 vs. 0.476 for Pb; and 515 and 426 vs. 13.1 for Zn. Mn, Fe, Cu, Sb, and Sn were detectable in most samples. Cd was detected in 0.0, 30.4, and 55.1% of the dispenser, aerosol, and tank samples respectively. Arsenic was detected in 10.7% of dispenser samples (median 26:7 lg=kg) and these concentrations were similar in aerosol and tank samples. Aerosol mass concentrations (mg=m3) for the detected metals spanned several orders of magnitude and exceeded current health-based limits in close to 50% or more of the samples for Cr, Mn, Ni, and Pb.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that e-cigarettes are a potential source of exposure to toxic metals (Cr, Ni, and Pb), and to metals that are toxic when inhaled (Mn and Zn). Markedly higher concentrations in the aerosol and tank samples versus the dispenser demonstrate that coil contact induced e-liquid contamination

Fri
1/18
EOH Seminar Series
Risk-Based Model to Assess Environ Just & Cor Hrt Disease Burden From Air Poll iin Allegh Co. EOH Seminar Series
Risk-Based Model to Assess Environ Just & Cor Hrt Disease Burden From Air Poll iin Allegh Co.
Fri 1/18 1:00PM - 2:00PM
A719 Public Health

Thu
1/24
EOH Journal Club
All-cause mortality risk associated with long-term exposure to ambient PM.2.5.in China EOH Journal Club
All-cause mortality risk associated with long-term exposure to ambient PM.2.5.in China
Thu 1/24 11:00AM - 12:00PM
4140 Public Health, Young Seminar Room

Presenter: Omar Tahtamooni

Paper: All-cause mortality risk associated with long-term exposure to ambient PM2.5 in China: a cohort study

Authors: Tiantian Li, Yi Zhang, Jiaonan Wang, Dandan Xu, Zhaoxue Yin, Huashuai Chen, Yuebin Lv, Jiesi Luo, Yi Zeng, Yang Liu, Patrick L Kinney, Xiaoming S

Abstract:
Background Evidence from cohort studies in North America and Europe indicates that long-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM₂·₅) is associated with an increased mortality risk. However, this association has rarely been quantified at higher ambient concentrations. We estimated the hazard ratio (HR) for all-cause mortality from longterm exposure to PM₂·₅ in a well established Chinese cohort of older adults.

Methods The Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS) is a prospective cohort study of men and women aged 65 years and older enrolled in 2008 and followed up through 2014 for mortality events. We studied individuals for whom residential locations were available in 2008 for linkage to 1 km grids of PM₂·₅ concentrations, derived from satellite remote sensing. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the effect of long-term exposure to PM₂·₅ on all-cause mortality, controlling for age, sex, smoking status, drinking status, physical activity, body-mass index, household income, marital status, and education. We then used our results to estimate premature mortality related to PM₂·₅ exposure in the population aged 65 years and older in China in 2010.

Findings 13 344 individuals in the CLHLS cohort had data for all timepoints, yielding follow-up data for 49 440 person-years. In a 3-year window, these individuals were exposed to a median PM₂·₅ concentration of 50∙7 μg/m³ (range 6∙7–113∙3). The overall HR for a 10 μg/m³ increase in this value was 1∙08 (95% CI 1∙06–1∙09). In stratified analyses, HRs were higher in rural than in urban locations, in southern versus northern regions, and with exposure to lower versus higher PM₂·₅ concentrations. Based on the overall HR, we estimated that 1 765 820 people aged 65 years and older in China in 2010 had premature mortality related to PM₂·₅ exposure.

Interpretation Long-term exposure to PM₂·₅ is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality among adults aged 65 years and older in China, but the magnitude of the risk declines as the concentration of PM₂·₅ increases

Fri
1/25
EOH Seminar Series
Underst Effec of Abiotic & Biotic Param on Hlth of Water Treat Sys & Peop they Serve- Sarah Haig EOH Seminar Series
Underst Effec of Abiotic & Biotic Param on Hlth of Water Treat Sys & Peop they Serve- Sarah Haig
Fri 1/25 1:00PM - 2:00PM
A719 Public Health

Thu
1/31
EOH Journal Club
Toll-like Receptor 4 Pathway Polymorphisms Interact with Pollution to Influence Asthma Diagnosis and EOH Journal Club
Toll-like Receptor 4 Pathway Polymorphisms Interact with Pollution to Influence Asthma Diagnosis and
Thu 1/31 11:00AM - 12:00PM
4140 Public Health, Young Seminar Room

Presenter: Brandy Hill

Paper: Toll-like Receptor 4 Pathway Polymorphisms Interact with Pollution to Influence Asthma Diagnosis and Severity

Authors: Shepherd H. Schurman, Mercedes A. Bravo, Cynthia L. Innes, W. Braxton Jackson, II, John A. McGrath, Marie Lynn Miranda, and Stavros Garantziotis

Abstract:
Asthma is a common chronic lung disease, the incidence and severity of which may be influenced by gene-environment interactions. Our objective was to examine associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and combinations of SNPs in the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) pathway, residential distance to roadway as a proxy for traffic-related air pollution exposure, and asthma diagnosis and exacerbations. We obtained individual-level data on genotype, residential address, and asthma diagnosis and exacerbations from the Environmental Polymorphisms Registry. Subjects (n = 2,704) were divided into three groups (hyper-responders, hypo-responders, and neither) based on SNP combinations in genes along the TLR4 pathway. We geocoded subjects and calculated distance, classified as <250 m or ≥250 m, between residence and nearest major road. Relationships between genotype, distance to road, and odds of asthma diagnosis and exacerbations were examined using logistic regression. Odds of an asthma diagnosis among hyper-responders <250 m from a major road was 2.37(0.97, 6.01) compared to the reference group (p < 0.10). Hypo-responders ≥250 m from the nearest road had lower odds of activity limitations (0.46 [0.21, 0.95]) and sleeplessness (0.36 [0.12, 0.91]) compared to neither-responders (p < 0.05). Specific genotype combinations when combined with an individual’s proximity to roadways, possibly due to traffic-related air pollution exposure, may affect the likelihood of asthma diagnosis and exacerbations.

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