Fall 2016 Seminar Schedule.

Join us every Friday from 12:45-1:45pm in BUSM L210 

(Note: We will meet in L112 on Sept 9 and Sept 16).


Fall 2016 Schedule Summary

Date Speaker Seminar Titles and Topics
Sept 9 Phil Landrigan, MD, MSc, FAAP
Professor of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics
Dean for Global Health
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
“The Insufficiently Appreciated Impact of Pollution on Global Health”
Sept 16 Pat Hibberd, M, PhD
Chair, Department of Global Health, BUSPH
“What Will it Take to Clean Up the Most Dangerous Place on Earth?”
Sept 23 Susan Murcott, MD
D-Lab, MIT
“Global Oneness Engineering: Three Examples of Global Environmental Health Practice from Nepal and Ghana”
Sept 30 Kate Crawford, Lindsay Underhill
Doctoral Students, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health
“Healthy Fish, Healthy People? Using fish to simultaneously study the ecological and human health impacts of Superfund chemicals in New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts”A Comparison of Health Impacts from Aircraft Emissions, Residential Combustion, and Power Plants in the United States using Health Damage Function Modeling
Oct 7 Birgit Claus Henn, MPH, SD
Department of Environmental Health, BUSPH
Burden and Impacts of Heavy Metal Exposures in Mid and Low Income Countries
Oct 14 Kristin Sippl, PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Harvard Business School
Reducing Mercury Exposure from Gold Mining: The Roles of Governments, NGOs and the Jewelry Industry
Oct 21 Bicknell Lecture, No Seminar
Oct 28 Aaron Cohen, MPH, DSc
Consultant Scientist, Health Effects Institute (HEI), Boston, MA
“The Global Burden of Disease Attributable to Ambient Air Pollution: Estimates of Current Burden and 25-Year Trends from the GBD 2015 Study”
Nov 4 Barry Levy, MD, MPH
Adjunct Professor of Public Health, Tufts University School of Medicine

Former President, American Public Health Association (APHA)

Co-editor, Climate Change and Public Health
“Climate Change and Environmental Health: The Impact in Low Income Countries”
Nov 11 EH Retreat
Nov 18 Lariah Edwards, Emma Preston
Doctoral Students, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health
Development of PPARγ Ligand Exposure Biomarker“”Plasma per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances during early pregnancy and associated maternal and neonatal thyroid disruption in Project Viva
Nov 25 Thanksgiving Holiday
Dec 2 Diana Ceballos, PhD, MS, CIH
Industrial Hygienist, Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Visiting Scientist, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 
Electronic Waste, Recycling, and the Health of Vulnerable Populations
Dec 9 Shruthi Mahalingaiah MD, MS Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Boston University School of Medicine Boston Medical Center Air Pollution Exposures and Gynecologic Disease Incidence: Mechanisms, and Findings
Dec 16 Lindsey Butler, Komal Basra
Doctoral Students, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health
TBD”Community-engaged modeling of geographic and demographic patterns of multiple public health risk factors



Detailed Schedule

EH Seminar Series

Global Environmental Health Fall 2016


September 9

Title:   The Insufficiently Appreciated Impact of Pollution on Global Health


Speaker: Philip J. Landrigan MD, MSc, FAAP  

Professor of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics

Dean for Global Health

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai


Summary:  Pollution-related disease (PRD) is a massive and growing global problem.  Diseases caused by pollution are responsible for nearly 9 million premature deaths each year, almost three times as many deaths as result from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. PRD, poverty and inequity are intertwined, and PRD falls most heavily upon children, women, and the poor. More than 90% of deaths due to PRD occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

The nature of pollution is changing. In rapidly developing countries, levels of ambient air pollution, toxic chemical pollution and soil pollution are increasing sharply in consequence of urbanization, increasing motor vehicle use and the proliferation of toxic chemicals, pesticides and polluting industries. Asthma, neurodevelopmental disorders and sudden infant death syndrome are the main health consequences for children.  In adults, health effects include COPD, atherosclerosis, ischemic heart disease, stroke, renal disease, lung cancer and accelerated neurological degeneration.

In this opening lecture of the Gijs van Seventer Environmental Health Seminar Series, Global Environmental Health: Science, Policy and Practice, Dr. Landrigan explores the global impact of pollution and pollution-related diseases.  The changing nature of pollution and PRDs is described along with the staggering economic and development costs due to these diseases.  Efforts to address this increasing, and neglected global problem are discussed, including the launch of the Global Commission on Pollution & Health, an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, are summarized.

Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, FAAP, is Professor of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics and Dean for Global Health in Arnhold Institute for Global Health of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He is a pediatrician, epidemiologist, and leader in public health and preventive medicine.

Dr. Landrigan’s pioneering research on the effects of lead poisoning in children contributed to the U.S. government’s decision to remove lead from gasoline and paint. His leadership of a National Academy of Sciences Committee on pesticides in children’s diets generated widespread understanding that children are uniquely vulnerable to toxic chemicals in the environment and helped to secure passage of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, the only federal environmental law in the United States that contains explicit protections for the health of children. It led also to establishment of EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection.  Dr. Landrigan was a leader in developing the National Children’s Study, the largest epidemiological study of children’s health and the environment ever launched in the United States.  He has been centrally involved in the medical and epidemiologic studies that followed the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.  He has consulted extensively to the World Health Organization.  Dr. Landrigan currently chairs The Lancet-Mount Sinai Global Commission on Pollution & Health.

Dr. Landrigan is a graduate of Boston Latin School, Boston College, Harvard Medical School and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. He is a 41-year veteran of the US Public Health Service and the US Navy.

Recommended Reading:

Landrigan PJ, Fuller R. Pollution, health and development: the need for a new paradigm. Rev Environ Health. 2016 Mar;31(1):121-4. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2015-0070.

Landrigan PJ, Fuller R, Horton R. Environmental pollution, health, and development: a Lancet-Global Alliance on Health and Pollution-Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Commission. Lancet. 2015 Oct 10;386(10002):1429-31. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00426-2.



September 16

Title:  What Will it Take to Clean Up the Most Dangerous Place on Earth?   


Speaker:   Patricia L. Hibberd, MD, PhD

Chair, Department of Global Health, BUSPH





Summary:  Half the world’s population has an open fire or traditional stove burning solid fuels in their kitchen.  The result is “household air pollution” (HAP) that causes more than 4 million deaths a year.   This seminar reviews what we know and need to know to clean up the kitchen. 

Dr. Hibberd is a physician and epidemiologist, who was appointed as Chair of the Department of Global Health at the BU School of Public Health on July 1 2016.  Previously she served as professor of global health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and as director of the Division of Global Health in the Department of Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital. She received a BSc (honors) from King’s College, London, and a PhD degree in information science/epidemiology from Leicester University in 1978. She came to the US in 1980 as an epidemiologist researcher and obtained an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1986. Dr. Hibberd trained in internal medicine and infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She has had leadership roles in infectious diseases, epidemiology, clinical research, and global health at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Tufts Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine. She was also a General Clinical Research Center program director while she was at Tufts.

Currently Dr. Hibberd is a practicing infectious disease consultant who also leads a clinical and translational research program focusing on the prevention and treatment of childhood pneumonia, neonatal sepsis, and diarrhea—the leading killers of children under age 5 worldwide. She has worked in India for 20 years, and her research in India has been funded by NIH/NICHD’s Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research since 2008.   Her global health research in India focuses on reducing the burden of household air pollution to improve health outcomes across the lifespan.  She is also supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Malawi and by Saving Lives at Birth in Pakistan for the development of novel point of care diagnostics for pneumonia in young children. One of her passions is mentorship and fostering the development of the next generation of global health leaders—these include undergraduate, public health, and medical students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty. Dr. Hibberd is also a Paul G. Rogers Society Ambassador for Global Health Research and is currently chair of the Data and Safety Monitoring Board for the CDC’s STRIVE Trial, testing one of the vaccines (rVSV-ZEBOV) to prevent Ebola in Sierra Leone. She has published more than 300 articles, chapters, and books and serves on advisory boards to many US and international organizations.

Recommended Reading:

  1. Patel AB, Meleth S, Pasha O, Goudar S, Esamai F, Garces A, Chomba E, McClure E, Wright LL, Koso-Thomas M, Moore JL, Saleem S, Leicthy E, Goldenberg R, Derman R, Hambidge M, Carlo W, Hibberd PLImpact of exposure to cooking fuels on stillbirths, perinatal, very early and late neonatal mortality – a multicenter prospective cohort study in rural communities in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Zambia and Guatemala.  Maternal Health, Neonatology and Perinatology 2015:1; 18.
  2. Page CM, Patel A, Hibberd PL. Does smoke from biomass fuel contribute to anemia in pregnant women in Nagpur, India? A cross-sectional study. PLoS One. 2015 May 29;10(5):e0127890. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127890. eCollection 2015. PubMed PMID: 26024473.
  3. Gordon SB, Bruce NG, Grigg J, Hibberd PL, Kurmi OP, Lam KB, Mortimer K, Asante KP, Balakrishnan K, Balmes J, Bar-Zeev N, Bates MN, Breysse PN, Buist S, Chen Z,  Havens D, Jack D, Jindal S, Kan H, Mehta S, Moschovis P, Naeher L, Patel A, Perez-Padilla R, Pope D, Rylance J, Semple S, Martin WJ 2nd. Respiratory risks from household air pollution in low and middle income countries. Lancet Respir Med. 2014 Oct; 2(10):823-860. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(14)70168-7. Epub 2014 Sep 2. Review. PubMed PMID: 25193349.




September 23  

Title:   Global Oneness Engineering: Three Examples of Global Environmental Health Practice from Nepal and Ghana


Speaker: Susan Murcott

D-Lab, MIT






In this seminar, Susan Murcott will describe her engineering practice by defining “Global Oneness Engineering” and discussing the work in which she and her community partners and students engage. After conducting water quality tests and discovering arsenic in Nepal in 2001, design and implementation of an innovative arsenic filter became the chief focus.  Microbiologically unsafe surface waters in Ghana led to the construction of a ceramic pot filter factory to provide safe drinking water and good jobs. Murcott’s latest work with a Cambridge start-up and local partners in Ghana involves measurement of carbon flux and translating that into both financial products and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions.

Susan Murcott is a water/wastewater engineer and a lecturer at MIT.  She has led international public health engineering projects and mentored graduate student teams in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for the past twenty-five years on five continents. From 2005 to the present, she co-founded, with Ghanaian partners, and helped establish the non-profit organization, Pure Home Water. This social enterprise has built a ceramic pot filter factory to provide employment for low-income farmers impacted by climate change and safe drinking water for communities dependent on surface waters in northern Ghana, a predominantly Moslem region which is the poorest part of Ghana.  From 2002 to the present, she has been the principal investigator of a team, in partnership with the Environment and Public Health Organization in Kathmandu, Nepal, and the Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technologies (CAWST) in Alberta, Canada, that invented and has widely disseminated the prize-winning KanchanTM Arsenic Filter. Following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, she has been an advisor to a MIT-funded emergency relief drinking water testing program.  In 2014-2015, she led the water filter evaluation of the Comprehensive Initiative for Technology Evaluation (CITE), a 5-year USAID-funded project, to evaluate technologies for the poor.

Murcott’s current focus is at the intersection of water, climate change and humanitarian action. In 2016 she  joined a Cambridge-based start-up, Planetary Emissions Management (http://www.pemforest.com/), which measures biogenic and fossil carbon flux and translates those measurements both into tradable financial products and support for WASH.  Murcott is the author of over 50 professional papers as well as the book Arsenic in the World: an International Sourcebook (IWA, 2012)

Recommended Readings:

  1. Nelson,T, Ingols, C, Chrisitan-Murtie, Myers, P. Teaching Case Susan Murcott and Pure Home Water: Building a Sustainable Mission-Driven Enterprise in Northern Ghana.  2013. Entrepreneurship Teaching and Practice. 38(4):961-979 (attached) Nelson, Ingols et al, SMurcott & Pure Home Water, Entrepreneurship T & Pracice_Vol27,4, pp961-979_Jul 2013,
  2. Brochure – Kanchan Arsenic Filter (attached) KAF booklet 2nd edition final Jan06
  3. Press Release: “Ghanaian Agroforestry, Water, Sanitation and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Management Goals for Unique Partnership” http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/04/prweb13312686.htm

Recommended Viewing:

  1. CNN “Innovators” – Susan Murcott
  2. “Pure Home Water, Ghana: AfriClay Filters”
  3. “Women and Water: Access and Scarcity”
  4. Arsenic Poisoning and the Kanchan™ Arsenic Filter




September 30

Title: TBD

Speakers:   Department of Environmental Health doctoral students


Kate Crawford:

Title: “Healthy Fish, Healthy People? Using fish to simultaneously study the ecological and human health impacts of Superfund chemicals in New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts”


Fish using the New Bedford Harbor (NBH), Massachusetts, marine Superfund site as habitat provide an important link in assessing both ecological and human health risks. Certain polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners and tributyltin (TBT) are among the contaminants of concern that bioaccumulate in NBH fish. PCBs and TBT belong to a growing class of metabolism disrupting compounds associated with obesity, liver steatosis, and Type 2 diabetes. In fact, short-term exposure to PCBs and TBT produced elevated levels of liver triglycerides in laboratory-reared killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus), an ecologically-important NBH fish.  Exposure to these compounds also produced skeletal deformities in developing killifish. These biological effects suggest perturbations to metabolic and bone homeostasis, and future genomic analyses of experimental fish tissues will provide clues about the underlying molecular mechanisms of toxicity for these compounds.

Lindsay Underhill:

Title: A Comparison of Health Impacts from Aircraft Emissions, Residential Combustion, and Power Plants in the United States using Health Damage Function Modeling”


The impact of aircraft emissions on human health is of growing concern due to increasing demands for air transportation and expected decreases in other prominent sources of combustion-related pollutants, such as residential combustion and power plants. Ground level ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are believed to drive the majority of health-related impacts, such as premature mortality, caused by air pollutants overall and from aviation sources. While multiple previous studies have compared the environmental health impacts from the aviation sector with other major sectors, no studies have compared sector-specific health impacts using damage functions that normalize impacts by emission rates. This type of comparison can provide several policy-relevant insights, such as whether aviation sources behave more like ground-level sources (e.g. residential combustion) or sources with elevated stack heights (e.g. power plants), as well as how geographic patterns influence sector- and pollutant-specific damage functions.



October 7

Title: The burden and impacts of heavy metal exposures in mid and low income countries



Speaker:   Birgit Claus Henn, MPH, SD

Department of Environmental Health, BUSPH





For thousands of years, humans have been using heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic. Although adverse health effects have been known to be associated with exposure to some metals for a long time, exposure to these metals continues. In some areas of the world and for certain subpopulations, exposure is increasing. Furthermore, little is known about the health effects of combinations of metals, which is a realistic exposure scenario. This seminar will explore the impact of metal exposures in low- and middle-income countries, using two pediatric populations as examples.

Birgit Claus Henn is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health at the BU School of Public Health. Her research focuses on exposure to toxic metals and their impact on child development. She has examined associations between metals exposure and neurodevelopment in multiple pediatric cohorts worldwide, spanning critical periods of development from prenatal exposure through late childhood. Dr. Claus Henn is currently the PI of an NIEHS Career Development Award to utilize novel statistical approaches for analyzing chemical mixtures data in order to understand neurodevelopmental effects of multiple metals. Birgit received her MPH from the University of California, Berkeley, and her SD from Harvard Chan School of Public Health in 2010.


Recommended Readings:

Associations of early childhood manganese and lead coexposure with neurodevelopment.  Claus Henn B, Schnaas L, Ettinger AS, Schwartz J, Lamadrid-Figueroa H, Hernández-Avila M, Amarasiriwardena C, Hu H, Bellinger DC, Wright RO, Téllez-Rojo MM.  Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Jan;120(1):126-31.

Bayesian kernel machine regression for estimating the health effects of multi-pollutant mixtures. Bobb JF, Valeri L, Claus Henn B, Christiani DC, Wright RO, Mazumdar M, Godleski JJ, Coull BA. Biostatistics. 2015 Jul;16(3):493-508.

Contaminated turmeric is a potential source of lead exposure for children in rural Bangladesh.  Gleason K, Shine JP, Shobnam N, Rokoff LB, Suchanda HS, Ibne Hasan MO, Mostofa G, Amarasiriwardena C, Quamruzzaman Q, Rahman M, Kile ML, Bellinger DC, Christiani DC, Wright RO, Mazumdar M.  J Environ Public Health. 2014.




October 14

Title: Reducing Mercury Exposure from Gold Mining: The Roles of Governments, NGOs and the Jewelry Industry


Speaker: Kristin Sippl, PhD

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Harvard Business School





The leading cause of global mercury pollution is artisanal and small-scale gold mining, a subsistence livelihood in low-income countries that supplies roughly 20% of the world’s gold jewelry. Miners use mercury because it is the cheapest and easiest way to extract gold from the earth. Few know of the dangers mercury poses to their health, and even fewer know of any alternatives. The United Nations and national governments are working to address the problem, but they will need help from NGOs and the jewelry industry to succeed. This seminar describes avenues of mercury exposure due to artisanal and small-scale gold mining and the health impacts of these exposures. It then compares the approaches of various actors to mitigate this exposure, focusing especially on two NGOs using eco-labeling of jewelry to improve the situation: Fairtrade International and the Alliance for Responsible Mining.

Dr. Sippl is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard Business School studying efforts to improve the human and environmental impacts of global supply chains. Specializing in the private governance activities of businesses and NGOs, Kristin explores why some industries receive more governance attention than others, and the determinants of successful advocacy for industrial reform. Her dissertation explained certification organization response to gold mining for the jewelry industry using qualitative case studies of the Alliance for Responsible Mining, Fairtrade International, and the Rainforest Alliance. Kristin has taught in the areas of international relations, human rights, and non-state actors. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston University in May 2016.

Recommended Readings:

“From Blood Diamonds to Dirty Gold: How to buy gold less tainted by mercury pollution”: http://theconversation.com/from-blood-diamonds-to-dirty-gold-how-to-buy-gold-less-tainted-by-mercury-49726

– “Private and Civil Society Governors of Mercury Pollution from Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining: A Network Analytic Approach”:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272568475_Private_and_civil_society_governors_of_mercury_pollution_from_artisanal_and_small-scale_gold_mining_A_network_analytic_approach

October 21

No Seminar- Bicknell Lecture

October 28

Topic: “The Global Burden of Disease Attributable to Ambient Air Pollution: Estimates of Current Burden and 25-Year Trends from the GBD 2015 Study”


Speaker:   Aaron J. Cohen, MPH, DSc  

Consulting Scientist, Health Effects Institute, Boston, MA

Affiliate Professor of Global Health, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health




Exposure to ambient air pollution increases mortality and morbidity and shortens life expectancy. The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors study 2015 (GBD 2015) estimated the burden of disease attributable to 79 risk factors in 188 countries from 1990 to 2015. GBD 2015 identified ambient air pollution as a leading cause of global disease burden, especially in low- and middle-income countries.  Dr. Cohen will present the methods and results of GBD 2015 with respect to ambient air pollution, including spatial and temporal patterns of mortality and burden of disease attributable to ambient air pollution from 1990 to 2015 at global, regional, and country levels.

Aaron J Cohen is Consulting Scientist at the Health Effects Institute (HEI) in Boston, MA. Prior to his retirement from HEI in May 2016 Dr. Cohen led for 26 years HEI’s US and international epidemiologic research programs on the adverse effects of air pollution. Past HEI responsibilities included the organization and management of epidemiologic research projects such as the Reanalysis of the American Cancer Society and Six-City studies of air pollution and mortality, and multi- city time-series studies of air pollution and daily mortality in Europe, North America, Asia and Latin America. He led HEI’s 2004 and 2010 reviews of the literature on the health effects of air pollution in the developing countries of Asia, and initiated, and currently co-coordinates, HEI’s Health Outcomes Research program, which assesses the health impacts of actions taken to improve air quality. Since 1999 Dr. Cohen has served as a Temporary Advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) on the evaluation of epidemiologic evidence, air pollution health impact assessment, and air quality guideline development and has served as a member of International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) working groups on diesel exhaust and outdoor air pollution. He co-chaired the Expert Groups that produced estimates of the global burden of disease due to Urban Air Pollution in 2000 and Ambient Air Pollution for the Global Burden of Disease 2010 project and is a member of the Core Analytic Team of the Global Burden of Disease project.

Epidemiology is Dr. Cohen’s second career. He is also a Registered Respiratory Therapist (AS and BS, Northeastern University), and worked for 15 years in newborn intensive care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and subsequently as Research Associate in Perinatal Epidemiology, conducting epidemiologic and clinical research on neonatal respiratory disease, and the evaluation of related medical technologies.

Dr. Cohen holds a D.Sc. in Epidemiology (1991), and Masters in Public Health (1985) from the Boston University School of Public Health, where he is adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Health. He is also Affiliate Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Recommended Readings:




November 4

Title:   “Climate Change and Environmental Health: The Impact in Low-income Countries”


Speaker:   Barry S. Levy, MD, MPH

Adjunct Professor of Public Health, Tufts University School of Medicine

Former President, American Public Health Association (APHA)

Co-editor, Climate Change and Public Health




Climate change is adversely affecting environmental health, with a disproportionate impact in low-income countries. As a risk multiplier, climate change is worsening many environmental health problems and challenges to human rights and social justice. Dr. Levy will describe these impacts and public health approaches to addressing them.

Dr. Levy is an Adjunct Professor of Public Health at Tufts University School of Medicine and a consultant in occupational and environmental health. He is co-editor of Climate Change and Public Health, which was selected as the 2015 Environmental Health Book of the Year, and 17 other books on occupational and environmental health and other topics. He has co-authored papers on the impacts of climate change on human rights and collective violence and more than 200 other journal articles and book chapters.

Dr. Levy formerly worked as a medical epidemiologist with the CDC, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and a director of international health programs and projects. He is a past president of the American Public Health Association.

Recommended Readings:

  1.  Levy BS, Patz JA. Climate Change, Human Rights, and Social Justice. Ann Glob Health. 2015 May-Jun;81(3):310-22. doi: 10.1016/j.aogh.2015.08.008. Review. PMID: 26615065 (http://www.annalsofglobalhealth.org/article/S2214-9996(15)01224-2/pdf)
  1.  Levy BS, Sidel, VW.  Collective Violence Caused by Climate Change and How It Threatens Health and Human Rights  Health and Human Rights Vol. 16, No. 1, Climate Justice and the Right to Health (June 2014), pp. 32-40




November 11

No seminar- EH Retreat




November 18

Speakers:   Department of Environmental Health doctoral students:

Lariah Edwards and Emma Preston


Speaker1: Lariah Edwards

Title:Development of PPARγ Ligand Exposure Biomarker


Metabolic and bone homeostasis are regulated by multiple hormones and nuclear receptors thus making them targets of endocrine disrupting chemicals. Peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-gamma (PPARγ) is a nuclear receptor that plays an important role as a homeostatic regulator and links metabolic and bone diseases due to its regulatory role in the balance between bone and fat. Furthermore, PPARγ can be targeted by EDCs, including environmental PPARγ ligands and therapeutics, and the increased receptor activity can be an upstream predictor of health effects. This research will employ mice serum samples and human serum samples from commercial sources and from a cohort with well-defined chemical exposures to develop a novel biomarker for exposure to mixtures of environmental chemicals implicated in obesity and osteoporosis by assessing cumulative PPARγ activity.

Speaker2: Emma Preston

Title: Plasma per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances during early pregnancy and associated maternal and neonatal thyroid disruption in Project Viva


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are fluorinated synthetic chemicals, used in industrial and consumer products since the 1950s. Their widespread use has lead to ubiquitous human exposure through the indoor environment, diet, and contaminated drinking water. PFASs have been associated with numerous health effects, including neurodevelopment deficits and thyroid disruption. Potential effects on thyroid function are of particular concern during pregnancy, as proper thyroid function is critical for healthy fetal growth and neurodevelopment. This study examined associations between maternal PFAS exposure during early pregnancy and maternal and neonatal thyroid hormone levels in Project Viva, a large prospective pre-birth cohort in the Boston metropolitan area.



November 25

– Thanksgiving Holiday




December 2

Title: Electronic Waste, Recycling, and the Health of Vulnerable Populations


Speaker:  Diana Ceballos, PhD, MS, CIH

Visiting Scientist

JPB Environmental Health Fellow

Center for Health and the Global Environment

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health



E-waste is growing at an alarming rate worldwide, faster than it can be recycled. The e-recycling industry faces many challenges, including how to maintain standards that keep workers healthy and the environment clean, even in the most high-tech facilities.

Developing countries tend to recycle e-waste inside homes and in back yards, and the conditions are dire. The health of workers—including child laborers—can be adversely impacted by toxic chemicals. It’s common to find respiratory problems, stillbirths, and other health problems around these informal sites.

This presentation provides an overview of the health and environmental issues stemming from e-waste sites around the world, and an appreciation for how continued research could lead to changing the e-recycling industry to improve health and the environment. 

Diana Ceballos, PhD, MS, CIH, is visiting scientist in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health where she works with in the Chemicals and Health Hoffman Program.  Her research interests are in exposure assessment to complex chemical mixtures to determine effects on human health, especially as they pertain to vulnerable populations and emerging technologies.  Dr. Ceballos received her doctoral degree in Environmental and Occupational Hygiene from the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington; her dissertation work included developing a new method to test the protective efficacy of gloves against isocyanate paints used by spray painters. She also holds a Master of Science in Atmospheric Chemistry from the University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, and a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Medellin, Colombia.  She is also a Certified Industrial Hygienist from the American Board of Industrial Hygiene.  Dr. Ceballos was an Associate Industrial Hygienist Fellow and then a Senior Industrial Hygienist Service Fellow at CDC from 2010 to 2015.

Recommended Reading:

  1. Ceballos DM, Dong Z. The formal electronic recycling industry: Challenges and opportunities in occupational and environmental health research.Environ Int. 2016 Aug 25. pii: S0160-4120(16)30268-9.
  2. Ceballos DM, Gong W, Page E. A Pilot Assessment of Occupational Health Hazards in the US Electronic Scrap Recycling Industry. J Occup Environ Hyg. 2015;12(7):482-8.




December 9

 Topic: Air Pollution Exposures and Gynecologic Disease Incidence: Mechanisms, and Findings


Speaker:  Shruthi Mahalingaiah MD, MS

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Boston University School of Medicine

Boston Medical Center


This seminar discusses the link between air pollution exposures and the incidence of endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and infertility.  It explores the different associations noted for each disease type, and as considers the possible biological mechanisms that may account for these differences.

Dr. Shruthi Mahalingaiah is an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. She has a long standing appreciation of the benefits of a clean, balanced, and resilient environment on promoting health. Her research at Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center focuses on identifying environmental exposures and modifiable risk factors in the pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome. She is currently funded on the Reproductive Scientist Training Program, RSDP K12, and was previously supported as a Scholar on the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) program to study air pollution and risk of gynecologic disease incidence. Her current research focuses on environmental exposure and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) incidence, severity, metabolic sequelae, and risk modification. She was awarded the Endocrine Society’s Early Investigator Award 2016 for her contributions to date. She has a secondary appointment in the Department of Epidemiology at BU School of Public Health.

Dr. Mahalingaiah was born in India and immigrated to Connecticut with her family at an early age.  She continued her learning at Middlebury College in Vermont. Prior to medical school, supported by a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, she lived in Bali and the Ecuadorian Amazon Basin studying the role of ritual in the healing process.  She attended Harvard Medical School and completed her residency in the OB/GYN Combined Program at Brigham and Women’s/Massachusetts General Hospital.  After completing her fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, she joined the faculty at Boston University School of Medicine.  She recently completed her Masters of Science in Epidemiology program at Boston University School of Public Health



December 16  

Title: TBD

Speakers:   Department of Environmental Health doctoral students:

Speaker1: Lindsey Butler


Speaker2: Komal Basra

Title: Community-engaged modeling of geographic and demographic patterns of multiple public health risk factors”


Objectives: Many health risk factors are intervention targets within communities, but information regarding high-risk subpopulations is rarely available at a geographic resolution that is relevant for community-scale interventions.

Methods: Researchers and community partners in New Bedford (Massachusetts) collaboratively identified high-priority behaviors and health outcomes of interest available in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). We developed multivariable regression models from the BRFSS explaining variability in exercise, fruit and vegetable consumption, body mass index, and diabetes prevalence as a function of demographic and behavioral characteristics, and linked these models with a simulated population database to characterize high-risk populations and locations.

Results: Individuals with lower income and educational attainment had lower rates of multiple health-promoting behaviors (e.g. fruit consumption and exercise) and higher rates of self-reported diabetes. Our models identified census tracts with an elevated percentage of high-risk subpopulations, information community partners can use to prioritize funding and intervention programs.

Conclusions: Multi-stressor modeling using data from public databases, coupled with strong community partner engagement, can provide significant insight for intervention. Our methodology is transferrable to other communities and public databases.