Event Highlight: 2013 NIEHS EHS Core Centers Meeting

Steve Curwood, Host of PRI's Living on Earth, speaks at the Public Forum, © 2013 M. Levin

The CEEH was privileged to host the annual meeting of the NIEHS-Funded Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers in Seattle, April 17-19. The program included Scientific Symposia and sessions for Center Directors, Administrators, and Community Outreach and Engagement Cores (COECs). Howard Frumkin, Dean of the UW School of Public Health welcomed participants to Seattle with a lively presentation about the environmental health of the Seattle area and Washington State. NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum also welcomed participants to the meeting, provided an update of NIEHS programs and priorities, and participated in a Public Forum held in conjunction with the meeting. 

The topic of Science Symposium #1 was The Implications of the ENCODE Project for the Future of Genetic-Environment Interactions Research. Keynote speaker and CEEH Member John Stammatoyannopoulos spoke eloquently on "Genes, Chromatin, and Common Disease". The ENCODE Project aims to identify the functional elements encoded in the human genome and has the potential to uncover genetic-environment interactions and epigenetic regulation in human responses to toxicants and disease susceptibility. 

Science Symposium #2, Emerging Issues in Global Environmental Health, featured  a key note from Theo Vos on "Global Burden of Disease 2010: Focus on the Environment." Dr. Vos wowed the audience with his realtime demonstrations of GHDx, an interactive online resource for demographic and health data created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The GHDx directly supports IHME’s mission to improve the health of the world’s populations by providing the best information on population health. 

Breakout sessions addressed the topics of hydraulic fracturing, preparing the next generation of environmental health scientists, and strategies to build bi-directional communication. Ten young investigators from Environmental Health Centers across the country presented their research on topics ranging from bioinformatics to electronic waste recycling to phthalates.

The COECs worked together to create a "History Wall," pasting photographs and other memorabilia onto a timeline spanning the 50-year history of the EHS Core Center program. The History Wall introduced those relatively new to the Centers to the important work of the COECs and provided valuable information to those wishing to create new collaborations between COECs.

Sessions for the Directors focused on scientific presentations, long-range evaluation, strategic planning, and future steps for the EHS Core Center program. Administrators and COECs met separately in dedicated sessions to discuss topics of interest and value to them. 

Dr. Birnbaum at the Public Forum
Each year, in conjunction with the meeting, the host institution is encouraged to hold a public forum addressing a local environmental health issue. This year's forum was focused on the Duwamish River Superfund Site Cleanup. Stakeholders from EPA, Ecology, The Boeing Company, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, CEEH, Public Radio International's Living on Earth, and the Muckleshoot Tribe gave brief "Lightning Talk" presentations about the Duwamish River and the proposed Cleanup Plan currently open for public comment.

The EHS Core Centers meeting concluded Friday night with an educational boat tour of Elliott Bay. Participants had a chance to see the north end of the 5.5 mile Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site; Lockheed West in West Seattle; and the former Wyckoff Co. wood treatment facility at Eagle Harbor, the main port of Bainbridge Island. CEEH scientists Evan Gallagher and Chase Williams spoke about current CEEH research projects related to the pollution in the Duwamish River and provided information about the other Superfund sites we passed on the tour. James Rasmussen, the Director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and a member of the Duwamish Tribe, spoke eloquently about the impacts of pollution on those living near the river and on Tribal members whose well-being is inextricably tied to the health of the river. 

A complete program for the meeting is available on the CEEH website

Photos from the Public Forum are available for viewing on our Ecogenetics Flickr page

Next spring’s EHSCC meeting will be held at the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of Southern California.

Upcoming Event: Duwamish River Cleanup Educational Forum

© 2013, Jon Sharpe

The CEEH is pleased to be co-hosting an educational forum about the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) $305 million Duwamish River Superfund Cleanup proposal. The event will include time to prepare and submit written comments about the proposed cleanup plan as part of the Public Comment Period.

Duwamish River Superfund Cleanup Educational Forum
Monday, April 29th,  5:30 to 7:00 pm
Allen Library Research Commons, UW Campus 
(Search "Allen Library" on the UW Map Page)

Light refreshments will be provided

The forum will begin with a panel discussion with representatives from the EPA, Dept of Ecology, Lower Duwamish Waterway Group (Port of Seattle, City of Seattle/King County, Boeing Company), and the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (DRCC). Each representative will give a brief presentation and take questions about EPA's proposed cleanup plan. CEEH Outreach Director Kelly Edwards will moderate.

Seattle's lower Duwamish River was designated a federal Superfund site in 2001, which means it is one of the nation's most toxic hazardous waste sites. Over the last 12 years, the EPA has studied pollution in the river, its effect on people's health and the environment, and possible alternatives for cleanup. EPA  released its Proposed Cleanup Plan in late February and is holding public meetings and requesting comments on the proposed plan. The comment period closes June 13th.

The DRCC is sponsoring this educational meeting. DRCC is the Community Advisory Group for the Superfund site, representing community, environmental, tribal and small business groups in the Georgetown and South Park neighborhoods along the Duwamish River. The Educational Workshop at UW is one of a series of community meetings DRCC is sponsoring to inform the public about EPA's proposed cleanup plan.

The Duwamish, Seattle's working river, is also Seattle's only river. Cleaning it up will improve the habitat in and around the river, improve the area for wildlife, make fish and shellfish safer to eat, and provide access to a cleaner river for neighborhood residents and all Seattlites. Come and learn about this timely environmental health issue. Take this opportunity to tell EPA what you think by submitting a public comment.

No need to RSVP. We hope you can attend.