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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

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.

 

Does formaldehyde cause leukemia? Goldstein speaks on a report linking the two

PBS - After controlling for c...
Does formaldehyde cause leukemia? Goldstein speaks on a report linking the two

PBS - After controlling for certain lifestyle factors, a 2010 investigation found that workers exposed to 0.6 to 2.5 parts per million of formaldehyde had fewer red and white blood cells and a higher prevalence of DNA mutations in the blood stem cells. BERNARD GOLDSTEIN, EOH professor said the muta... (08/29/2018)

Indiana steel mill emits 18,000 pounds of lead a year, Fabisiak comments

CHICAGO TRIBUNE - The Arcelor...
Indiana steel mill emits 18,000 pounds of lead a year, Fabisiak comments

CHICAGO TRIBUNE - The ArcelorMittal steel mill at the Port of Indiana in Burns Harbor emitted 173,000 pounds of benzene during 2016, making it the nation’s largest industrial source of a volatile chemical known to cause leukemia. More could be on the way but regulators can't explain where the steel... (08/03/2018)

Is there a connection between Pittsburgh's high rates of asthma and autoimmune disorders?

Environmental Health News - P...
Is there a connection between Pittsburgh's high rates of asthma and autoimmune disorders?

Environmental Health News - Pittsburgh would be an ideal place for further study on the links between air pollution, asthma, and autoimmune disease, says EOH chair SALLY WENZEL. "There's a lot of evidence now that what you breathe may impact your lungs in many ways, and could actually start an auto... (06/12/2018)

Wenzel says biologic improves severe asthma outcomes

MEDPAGE - Two trials showed th...
Wenzel says biologic improves severe asthma outcomes

MEDPAGE - Two trials showed that dupilumab was associated with reduced exacerbations, better lung function and improved asthma control in patients with moderate-to-severe uncontrolled asthma. EOH professor SALLY WENZEL says, “for patients who have a lot of comorbidities, and are missing a lot of wor... (05/22/2018)

Goldstein on EPA’s disregard for the science behind the Clean Air Act

THE HILL - “In the name of ‘co...
Goldstein on EPA’s disregard for the science behind the Clean Air Act

THE HILL - “In the name of ‘cooperative federalism,’ Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is out to gut one of the finest examples of cooperative federalism in environmental law — that of setting outdoor air pollutant standards,” writes EOH’s BERNARD GOLDSTEIN. “This new approa... (05/18/2018)

 

Thu
9/27
EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club Seminar - Fall 2018 EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club Seminar - Fall 2018
Thu 9/27 11:00AM - 12:00PM
4140 Public Health, Young Seminar Room

Presenter: Pattra Chun-on

Paper: Predictors of Asthma/COPD Overlap in FDNY Firefighters With World Trade Center Dust Exposure

Authors:
Ankura Singh, MPH; Charles Liu, MD; Barbara Putman, MD; Rachel Zeig-Owens, DrPH, MPH; Charles B. Hall, PhD; Theresa Schwartz, MS; Mayris P. Webber, DrPH, MPH; Hillel W. Cohen, DrPH, MPH; Kenneth I. Berger, MD; Anna Nolan, MD; David J. Prezant, MD; and Michael D. Weiden, MD


Abstract:
BACKGROUND: Previously healthy firefighters with World Trade Center (WTC) dust exposure developed airway disease. Risk factors for irritant-associated asthma/COPD overlap are poorly defined.

METHODS: This study included 2,137 WTC-exposed firefighters who underwent a clinically indicated bronchodilator pulmonary function test (BD-PFT) between 9/11/2001 and 9/10/2017.Apost-BD FEV1 increase of>12% and 200 mL from baseline defined asthma, and a post-BD FEV1/FVC ratio < 0.7 identified COPD cases. Participants who met both criteria had asthma/COPD overlap. Eosinophil levels were measured on screening blood tests performed shortly after 9/11/2001 and prior to BD-PFT; a subgroup of participants also had serum IgE and 21 cytokines measured (n ¼215). Marginal Cox regression models formultiple events assessed the associations of eosinophil levels or serum biomarkers with subsequent diagnosis, with age, race, smoking,WTCexposure, first post-9/11 FEV1/FVC ratio, and BMI included as covariates.

RESULTS: BD-PFT diagnosed asthma/COPD overlap in 99 subjects (4.6%), isolated-asthma in 202 (9.5%), and isolated-COPD in 215 (10.1%). Eosinophil concentration $ 300 cells/mL was associated with increased risk of asthma/COPD overlap (hazard ratio [HR], 1.85; 95% CI,1.16-2.95) but not with isolated-asthma or isolated-COPD. Serum IL-4 also predicted asthma/COPD overlap (HR, 1.51 per doubling of cytokine concentration; 95% CI, 1.17-1.95). Greater IL-21 concentration was associated with both isolated-asthma and isolated-COPD (HRs of 1.73 [95% CI, 1.27-2.35] and 2.06 [95% CI, 1.31-3.23], respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: In WTC-exposed firefighters, elevated blood eosinophil and IL-4 levels are associated with subsequent asthma/COPD overlap. Disease-specific T-helper cell type 2 biomarkers present years before diagnosis suggest patient-intrinsic predisposition to irritantassociated asthma/COPD overlap.

KEY WORDS: asthma; airway obstruction; biomarkers; COPD; eosinophils
Thu
10/4
EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club Seminar - Fall 2018 EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club Seminar - Fall 2018
Thu 10/4 11:00AM - 12:00PM
4140 Public Health, Young Seminar Room

Presenter: Omar Tahtamooni

Paper: Association of traffic air pollution and rhinitis quality of life in Peruvian children with asthma

Authors:
Bose S, Romero K, Psoter KJ, Curriero FC, Chen C, Johnson CM, Kaji D, Breysse PN, Williams DL, Ramanathan M, Checkley W, Hansel NN.


Abstract:
BACKGROUND:
Air pollution exposure may contribute to rhinoconjunctivitis morbidity in children with underlying airways disease. Prior studies have not assessed rhinoconjunctivitis-related quality of life (QOL) in children with asthma chronically exposed to air pollution.

METHODS:
Children ages 9-19 years with asthma from peri-urban Peru, self-reporting rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms (n = 484), were administered the Rhinoconjunctivitis QOL Questionnaire (RQLQ) at repeated intervals over one year, with scores dichotomized into bothered (>0) and not bothered (= 0). Individual weekly exposures to particulate matter<2.5μm (PM2.5) and its black carbon (BC) component were estimated by inverse distance weighted methods. Generalized estimating equations, adjusting for covariates, estimated associations of PM2.5 and BC with QOL.

RESULTS:
Participants were on average 13 years old, 55% female, and majority were atopic (77%). Mean (SD) PM2.5 and BC concentrations were 21(3.2) μg/m3 and 4.4(1.5) μg/m3, respectively. In adjusted multi-pollutant models, each 10μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 was associated with increased odds of worse rhinoconjunctivitis QOL (OR;[95% CI]: 1.83;[1.33,2.52]). A 10% increase in the BC proportion was associated with higher rhinitis burden (OR;[95% CI]: 1.80;[1.22,2.66]), while increases in the non-BC component of PM did not significantly impact rhinoconjunctivitis QOL. Associations were similar regardless of atopy.

CONCLUSION:
Higher PM2.5 and BC exposure is associated with worse rhinitis QOL among asthmatic children.
Thu
10/11
EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club Seminar - Fall 2018 EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club Seminar - Fall 2018
Thu 10/11 11:00AM - 12:00PM
4140 Public Health, Young Seminar Room

Presenter: Shuo Cao

Paper: CCR10+ epithelial cells from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis lungs drive remodeling.

Authors:
Habiel DM, Espindola MS, Jones IC, Coelho AL, Stripp B, Hogaboam CM.

Abstract:
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a devastating fibrotic lung disease of unknown etiology and limited therapeutic options. In this report, we characterize what we believe is a novel CCR10+ epithelial cell population in IPF lungs. There was a significant increase in the percentage of CCR10+ epithelial cells in IPF relative to normal lung explants and their numbers significantly correlated to lung remodeling in humanized NSG mice. Cultured CCR10-enriched IPF epithelial cells promoted IPF lung fibroblast invasion and collagen 1 secretion. Single-cell RNA sequencing analysis showed distinct CCR10+ epithelial cell populations enriched for inflammatory and profibrotic transcripts. Consistently, cultured IPF but not normal epithelial cells induced lung remodeling in humanized NSG mice, where the number of CCR10+ IPF, but not normal, epithelial cells correlated with hydroxyproline concentration in the remodeled NSG lungs. A subset of IPF CCR10hi epithelial cells coexpress EphA3 and ephrin A signaling induces the expression of CCR10 by these cells. Finally, EphA3+CCR10hi epithelial cells induce more consistent lung remodeling in NSG mice relative to EphA3-CCR10lo epithelial cells. Our results suggest that targeting epithelial cells, highly expressing CCR10, may be beneficial in IPF.

KEYWORDS:
Cell Biology; Collagens; Fibrosis; Mouse models; Pulmonology
Thu
10/18
EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club Seminar - Fall 2018 EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club Seminar - Fall 2018
Thu 10/18 11:00AM - 12:00PM


Presenter: Heng Bai

Paper: The association between cumulative cadmium intake and osteoporosis and risk of fracture in a Chinese population

Authors: Xiao Chen, Zhongqiu Wang, Guoying Zhu, Gunnar F. Nordberg, Taiyi Jin & Xiaoqiang Ding


Abstract: Bone is one of the target organs for cadmium toxicity. However, few studies have shown the association between cumulative cadmium intake and prevalence of osteoporosis and bone fracture. In the present study, we evaluated the association between cumulative cadmium intake and osteoporosis and risk of fracture in a Chinese population. A total of 790 subjects (488 women and 302 men) living in a control area and two cadmium-polluted areas were included. The cumulative cadmium intake was estimated by a food survey. The bone mineral density was determined by using single-photon absorptiometry. The cumulative cadmium intakes were 0.48, 2.14, and 11.00 g for men, and 0.42, 2.11, and 11.12 g in women in control, and moderately and heavily polluted areas, respectively. In women, the odds ratios (ORs) of subjects with a cadmium intake between 2.21 and 10.63 g and >10.63 g were 1.30 (95% CI: 0.58–2.94) and 2.36 (95% CI: 1.14–5.16), compared with those with a cadmium intake < 0.58 g after adjusting to the confounders for osteoporosis. The ORs of subjects with a cadmium intake >10.63 g were 2.34 (95% CI: 1.23–4.38) for all of the women and 2.62 (95% CI: 1.02–5.58) in women ≥ 60 years old, compared with those with a cadmium intake <10.63 g after adjusting to the confounders for bone fractures. In men, similar trends were observed, but no statistical significance was found. In addition, those subjects with renal tubular dysfunction showed high risk of bone fracture. Our results indicate that a high level of cumulative cadmium intake is associated with an increased rate of osteoporosis and fractures among women.
Thu
10/25
EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club Seminar - Fall 2018 EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club Seminar - Fall 2018
Thu 10/25 11:00AM - 12:00PM


Presenter: Amrita Sahu

Paper: Extracellular Vesicles Provide a Means for Tissue Crosstalk during Exercise

Authors: Martin Whitham, Benjamin L. Parker, Martin Friedrichsen, ..., David E. James, Jørgen F.P. Wojtaszewski, Mark A. Febbraio

Abstract: Exercise stimulates the release of molecules into the circulation, supporting the concept that inter-tissue signaling proteins are important mediators of adaptations to exercise. Recognizing that many circulating proteins are packaged in extracellular vesicles (EVs), we employed quantitative proteomic techniques to characterize the exercise-induced secretion of EV-contained proteins. Following a 1-hr bout of cycling exercise in healthy humans, we observed an increase in the circulation of over 300 proteins, with a notable enrichment of several classes of proteins that compose exosomes and small vesicles. Pulse-chase and intravital imaging experiments suggested EVs liberated by exercise have a propensity to localize in the liver and can transfer their protein cargo. Moreover, by employing arteriovenous balance studies across the contracting human limb, we identified several novel candidate myokines, released into circulation independently of classical secretion. These data identify a new paradigm by which tissue crosstalk during exercise can exert systemic biological effects.
© 2018 by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

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