EOH Faculty & Research News

Lichtveld on how Huntington Beach Oil Spill Might Affect Human Health

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VERYWELL HEALTH - Breathing crude oil vapors can cause coughing, throat and nose irritation, dizziness, headache, and nausea, according to a 2016 medical study of the DWH clean-up workers. This is particularly worrisome for vulnerable populations like children, older adults and people with lung conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, says Dean Maureen Lichtveld.  

Shell cracker plant confrirms a sweet-smelling odor came from its Beaver County facility

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PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER - "Factual identification of the actual agents responsible for or released in association with the reported smells should be a high priority, in the absence of which assigning any potential health risk becomes very problematic," says EOH's James Fabisiak, Breath Project member. He also pointed the reporter toward CDC facts to help explain that the rumors that the smell was due to ethylene glycol were likely incorrect, keepi... 

Floods Have Swamped the US. The Next Health Problem: Mold

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WIRED - A summer of floods means mold and fungi are to follow. Yet we lack proper surveillance systems for mold infections and that leads to a data gap that increases the burden of these infections, particularly on marginalized groups. “We cannot isolate the impact of a natural disaster from historic burdens of health disparities, whether they are in the Gulf Coast or in the Caribbean or in New Jersey,” says Dean Maureen Lichtveld.  

Wenzel on the Impact of Code Orange Alert On Our Bodies (video)

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KDKA - EOH Chair Sally Wenzel, director of Pitt's Asthma Institute at UPMC, explained that recent weather creates conditions where particulates in our atmosphere can't escape. "These are plumes in the air that damage the lungs and the blood vessels of people, especially vulnerable people," said Wenzel. She recommends staying inside in the air conditioning as much as you can, visiting public spaces with air conditioning if you don’t have it in yo... 

A 'space race' level attack on future public health crises will involve Pittsburgh

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U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT - Maureen Lichtveld's nearly 40 years in environmental public health has focused on a central principle: how to prepare for the next big crisis. "The COVID-19 pandemic, as the limited coverage for childhood vaccinations [in the past], is a public health problem, requiring public health strategies of preparedness, vaccination and control," said Lichtveld, who is aiming to position Pitt at the forefront of this deeper bu... 

Schuyler and Wenzel find residence in redlined neighborhoods linked with lower lung function

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HEALIO - Adults with asthma living in neighborhoods that were deprioritized for mortgage investments in the 1930s, or redlined, had worse lung function than those living in non-redlined areas, Alexander Schuyler (EOH '23) and EOH Chair Sally Wenzel found in a cross-sectional study. "Black communities were mostly completely demarked in red or redlined as a result of this racist practice," said Schuyler.   

A fun, rewarding way to give back and make the public healthier

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EPI's Nancy Glynn (EPI '94) is the PittCoVax volunteer coordinator and has volunteered herself with students and staff from Pitt Public Health. "I was thrilled to work side-by-side with an awesome, energetic group of faculty, staff, and students," said Glynn. She also talked about building community and the importance of the vaccine.   

Wenzel and colleagues discover mechanisms of severe asthma

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UPMC - Wheezing, coughing that doesn’t stop, a pale and sweaty face: clinically, severe asthma attacks look very similar from patient to patient. But biologically, not all severe asthma is the same—and a team of scientists including EOH Chair Sally Wenzel has, for the first time, identified the key difference in people, a finding that has important implications for treatment.   

Dean Lichtveld looks to make science work for Pittsburgh communities

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U TIMES - "My motto is always 'Making science work for communities," said Dean Maureen Lichtveld. So her top goal for the school is to increase student and faculty connections to the community and its public health concerns. Another priority is precision public health – an interdisciplinary practice to tackling community-based problems with community-based assets. "We will go to the community and address…public health threats."   

Wenzel chosen as American Thoracic Society's Amberson Lecturer

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EOH Chair Sally Wenzel has been chosen to be the American Thoracic Society 2021 Amberson Lecturer at this year's ATS Conference May 14-19. The Amberson Lecture recognizes exemplary professionalism, collegiality, and citizenship through mentorship and leadership in the ATS community and the chosen lecturer is an individual with a career of major lifetime contributions to clinical or basic pulmonary research and/or clinical practice.  

Public comments on RGGI move Pa. closer to slashing power plant carbon pollution

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EDF — Virtual public hearings show support for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a proven cap-and-invest program that curbs climate pollution from the power sector. EOH's Bernard Goldstein testified, “Pollution trading actually began with acid rain, and would not have occurred without Sen. John Heinz of Pa. The outcome of the acid rain program should reassure both industry & environmentalists that regulated market-based approaches c... 

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.    

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