Environmental Health News

Student Research Day

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Student Research Day Presenters

Student Research Day presenters (l to r): John Linnett, Jessica Youngblood, Samantha Serrano, Andrew Forbes, Jill Schulte.


Sarah Fish.

At this year’s Student Research Day on May 30, a second-year master’s student from each of the five graduate degree programs gave a presentation on his or her research. Faculty preceptors are listed in parentheses. The remaining master’s students graduating and the trainees in Biostatistics, Epidemiologic, and Bioinformatic Training in Environmental Health presented posters of their work.

Evaluation of Anti-Vibration Gloves

Andrew Forbes, MS, Occupational & Environmental Exposure Science (Peter Johnson)

While anti-vibration gloves are a common way to reduce employee exposure to hand-arm vibration, their effectiveness hadn’t been studied in a real manufacturing environment. Forbes tested four types of gloves, each worn by workers using a sander while also wearing measuring devices called accelerometers. The workers’ bare-handed measurements were used as a control. The gloved transmissibility factors were compared to the bare-hand sample to find the overall effectiveness of the glove. This method may allow for a better evaluation of the effectiveness of anti-vibration gloves for specific tasks.

Insulin and Liver Effects of Occupational Exposures

John Linnett, MPH, Occupational & Environmental Medicine (Joel Kaufman)

Occupational exposures to organic solvents are associated with liver toxicity, fatty liver disease, and insulin resistance. Linnett evaluated the relationships between occupational exposures to vapors and gases (a marker for solvent exposure), fatty liver disease, and insulin resistance in workers aged 45–64 who are participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). A small, but not statistically significant, increase in liver fat was seen with increasing exposure to vapors and gases. An unexpected trend toward decreased insulin resistance occurred with higher exposures.

Jill Schulte talks about her research and practicum project at Student Research Day

Jill Schulte talks about her research and practicum project at Student Research Day. Photo: Sarah Fish.

Spatial Modeling of Diesel Exhaust Markers in South Seattle

Jill Schulte, MPH, Environmental & Occupational Health (Joel Kaufman)

The South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods of Seattle have high volumes of commercial truck traffic, prompting concern among residents about exposure to ambient diesel exhaust. Through the Diesel Exhaust Exposure in the Duwamish Study (DEEDS), Schulte measured, modeled, and mapped the gradient of two markers of diesel pollution throughout these neighborhoods. She found that pollution levels varied across small areas, and residents near busy roads and industrial areas faced disproportionately high levels of diesel exhaust pollution.

Phthalate Exposure in Pregnant Women

Samantha Serrano, MS, Environmental Health (Sheela Sathyanarayana)

Phthalates, a family of synthetic chemicals in consumer and industrial products, have been linked to harmful health outcomes following prenatal exposures. Food is considered the largest source of the most toxic phthalates for the general population. This study investigated dietary phthalate exposures in pregnant women. Soy consumption was found to be associated with increased levels of the urinary biomarker, mono-n-butyl phthalate (MBP). Even women who reported eating chemical-free foods had increased levels, suggesting that environmentally friendly consumption practices may not be protective against phthalate exposures.

Metagenomic Characterization of Puget Sound

Jessica Youngblood, MS, Environmental Toxicology (Elaine Faustman)

This longitudinal study used metagenomics in combination with high-throughput genetic sequencing, field metadata, and bioinformatic analysis to profile bacterial communities in the surface waters of Puget Sound. Metagenomics is the study of genetic material recovered directly from an environmental sample that does not use culture and isolation methods. Youngblood examined the composition of bacterial communities, their functional potential, and determinants that could potentially be harmful to human health. Her study aimed to further characterize the Puget Sound metagenome and to explore both human impacts on the marine environment and marine influences on human health.

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