Projects Funded - 2016-2017 Academic Year

Antineoplastic Drugs in Clinical Health Care Settings: Understanding Potential Pathways to Healthcare Professionals’ Exposure
Student:  Hannah Kaup
Faculty Advisor:  Susan Arnold, Ph.D.
Institution:  Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota

Antineoplastic drugs (AD) used to treat cancer patients present an occupational health risk to healthcare workers. Occupational AD exposure may result in genetic damage, adverse reproductive effects, and cancer. Chemotherapeutic residues have been found on countertops and floors in pharmacy, nursing and patient care areas and thus serving as sources of occupational exposure. In the U.S. it is estimated that 5.5 million healthcare workers are engaged in cancer patient care, with the majority being nurses and pharmacists.  Healthcare workers’ exposures are expected to increase globally as the number of cancer patients and associated treatment increase. Further, the spread of AD therapies to treat other, nonmalignant diseases will certainly contribute to the number of exposure sources and hence, to an increase in exposure. Despite the link between exposure and adverse health risks, regulatory Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) defining acceptable inhalation or dermal (as acceptable surface contamination levels) have not been established in the U.S., Canada, or elsewhere. Lacking credible acceptable OELs for inhalation or dermal exposure against which to compare measured levels, personal exposure studies are sparse, limiting our understanding of intra and inter-individual variability as well variability of contaminants across surfaces. Filling this knowledge gap is necessary for developing effective strategies to reduce exposure. While several organizations have published safe handling guidance recommending routine surveillance through monitoring, details about how to conduct the monitoring are not provided. Knowledge gaps including surface contamination variability across and between surfaces need to be addressed so that sampling guidance can be developed. These guidelines also recommend use of PPE which has been shown to reduce healthcare workers’ exposures. However studies show compliance with PPE policies vary widely. Interventions that include hazard communication training have increased compliance.

Applications of RFID Technology in Search and Rescue Operations
Student: Doug DeMoulin
Faculty Advisor: Yousif Abulhassan, Ph.D.
Institution: Murray State University

Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) conditions pose life-threatening outcomes upon exposure. Response timing under these conditions is an important component of a hazard communication program. The aim of this study is to identify improvements in employee accountability under these life-threatening conditions using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. A total of eight (8) trials will be conducted with a combination of three (3) variables: (1) Lighting conditions (well-lit vs. dark); (2) Familiarity with the test area; (3) Usage of RFID technology vs. traditional search and rescue grid system. Time will be measured and analyzed each to identify improvements in response times when using RFID technology vs. traditional grid search methods.


Consumer Product Safety Data Sheets: Assisting Small Businesses with OEL Interpretation 
Student: Michael Benjamin
Faculty Advisor: Andrew Maier, Ph.D.
Institution: Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati

For many small businesses, personnel responsible for evaluating occupational hazards from use of off-the-shelf consumer products rely on safety data sheets (SDSs) available on the Internet as a key information resource.  These safety data sheets may list different Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) for the same ingredients, which can make decision-making a challenge.  The objective of this project is to assess the prevalence of different OEL values listed for chemicals in consumer products using their safety data sheets.  Based on this analysis, we plan to develop guidance that will assist small business personnel with interpretation of the available information and train their workers.

Identify Major Challenges and Barriers in Integrating Environmental Counseling Programs in Clinical Practice
Student: Kara Johnson
Faculty Advisor: Shahid Parvez, Ph.D.
Institution: Department of Environmental Health, Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health

Although environmental health is deeply intertwined with preventative medicine, it is rarely discussed in primary care offices.  There are several toxicological and epidemiologic studies have shown that the chronic and acute exposures of environmental contaminants present in air, water, and food adversely affect both the long term and short term health of patients.  In our earlier pilot study funded by Society for Chemical Hazard Communication, we studied the effect of environmental counseling on patients’ behavior and perception that could reduce their exposure to environmental contaminants.  Although, this study indicated that counseling programs may help the patients to change their behavior for minimizing exposure risk, it did not address why such counseling programs do not exist in clinical settings at first place.  Therefore, we propose to identify the major challenges and barriers in clinical practice that may be responsible for non-existence of environmental counseling programs.  We will administer a questionnaire in health care professionals, including physicians, nurses, paramedical, and administrative staff.  Questionnaire will be centric to items such patient care, time-management, resources, workload, organization priorities, etc .  Based on the survey responses and data analysis, key barriers will be identified and discussed for further advancement in this area.

Investigation of the Impact of Learning Community Immersion on Chemical Hazard Communication Awareness, Knowledge and Commitment to Best Practices
Student: Brooklyn Scherer

Faculty Advisor: Joseph Lupica, Ph.D.
Institution: Walsh University
Presented at the Spring 2017 Poster Session

This study will compare the effectiveness of chemical hazard training and student commitment to best practices as a consequence of exposure to standard “in-lab” content lectures and quizzes versus immersion in a chemical hazards communication learning community setting. Learning communities are considered high impact practices (HIPs) which are reported to induce deeper learning and greater commitment to training principles. This comparison will be done with freshmen college students enrolled in first year chemistry and biology labs. Surveys measuring chemical hazard awareness, knowledge and commitment to best practices will be constructed and delivered prior to and following structured chemical hazards training within lab or within a learning community. Correlation analyses and other parametric statistics will be done to study the data. The chemical hazards studied will concentrate on common household chemicals and their content, knowledge of side effects, precautions being taken with use, disposal methods, and resources to determine content. The results will be presented in poster sessions at the SCHC, OAS and CERM conferences in 2017. This study may provide evidence for universities to use learning communities to train chemical hazard practices during first year science studies and beyond.

The Health Environment and Community Assessment Partnership
Student: Jeries Smirat

Faculty Advisor: Yi Wang, Ph.D.
Institution: Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis
Presented at the Spring 2017 Poster Session

The purpose of this project is to provide the residents of the Near Westside neighborhood of Indianapolis and the remainder of Marion County with a tool to communicate information about contaminated sites in their neighborhoods. Using an established mapping tool, the project aims to visualize data on local Brownfield sites. A team of faculty and students within the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health will implement a Brownfield Prioritization Score that primarily focuses on issues of human exposure and the extent of environmental impact from a given site. Upon scoring the Brownfield sites in Marion County, they will be mapped in a way that is both visually appealing and easily understood by community residents and policy makers. The tool will better allow for the communication of hazards in the immediate vicinity of those using the tool, as well as provide critical information to local and state Brownfields programs to guide their interventions when resources are limited.

Understanding Occupational Health and Safety Knowledge and Behaviors Among Cosmetologists in Minnesota

Student: Jennifer Saunders
Faculty Advisor: Susan Arnold, Ph.D.
Institution: Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota

Cosmetologists, estheticians and nail technicians are exposed to a range of chemicals while working with personal care products, and have an increased risk of injury and poor health outcomes. Occupational health and safety training is important to reduce workers’ exposures, but little information is known about their current knowledge and attitudes about occupational safety and health. This study aims to understand the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about work-related exposures in this population. Focus groups will be used to develop a survey of the approximately 17,500 licensed cosmetologists, estheticians and manicurists in Minnesota. The results of the survey will be used to inform occupational health and safety trainings for this workforce, including chemical hazard communication activities.