Research and Faculty

Pilot Project Research Training (PPRT) Program

The goal of the PPRT program is to strengthen the occupational health and safety research capacity of the United States by increasing the number and quality of scientists who pursue research careers in OH&S disciplines. The PPRT program provides short-term seed funds to support innovative pilot research projects.

The 2022-2023 request for proposal deadline for applications was Thursday May 5th, 2022 5:00pm EDT

 

 

The Current 2022-2023 cycle is over, but we will be announcing a new deadline soon for the 2023-2024 cycle!

Between now and May 2023 Adam Finkel, PPRT Director is happy to answer any questions: adfinkel@umich.edu

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Our Faculty

COHSE is fortunate to have many faculty members with strong research records that cover a broad spectrum of occupational health and safety (OH&S) issues.

Research

Our faculty have strong research programs with many recent publications.

Recent Publications

May 2024
An Online Training Module to Increase Knowledge and Awareness of Chemical Exposures and Safety Measures Among Nail Salon Workers
Marie-Anne S Rosemberg

J Occup Environ Med. 2024 May 21. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000003153. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: We developed an online training module targeting nail salon workers’ knowledge of chemical exposure and safety, responding directly to the workers’ expressed needs in a Midwest State.

METHODS: Following a needs assessment, we designed and developed the module content. Implementation and evaluation approaches were rolled out into three phases.

RESULTS: Seven workers completed the English version of the module and 24 workers completed the Vietnamese version. The average pre-test scores for those who completed the English and Vietnamese versions of the training were 81.43% and 58.33% respectively. The average post-test score was 98.57% for English and 91.67% for Vietnamese.

CONCLUSION: Culturally appropriate educational resources are effective facets of enhancing nail salon workers’ awareness, and their occupational health subsequently.

PMID:38769077 | DOI:10.1097/JOM.0000000000003153

May 2024
Prenatal Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and Maternal Oxidative Stress: Evidence from the LIFECODES Study
John D Meeker

Chemosphere. 2024 May 18:142363. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2024.142363. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes. Although their underlying biological mechanisms are not fully understood, evidence suggests PFAS may disrupt endocrine functions and contribute to oxidative stress (OS) and inflammation.

OBJECTIVE: We examined associations between early pregnancy PFAS exposure and OS biomarkers, exploring potential effect modifications by fetal sex and maternal race.

METHODS: We used data from 469 LIFECODES participants with measured plasma PFAS (median 10 weeks gestation) and repeated measures (median 10, 18, 26, and 35 weeks gestation) of urinary OS biomarkers [8-iso-prostaglandin-F2α (8-isoprostane) and 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG)]. Protein damage biomarkers (chlorotyrosine, dityrosine, and nitrotyrosine) were additionally measured in plasma from a subset (N=167) during the third visit. Associations between each PFAS and OS biomarkers were examined using linear mixed-effects models and multivariable linear regressions, adjusting for potential confounders, including maternal age, race, education level, pre-pregnancy BMI, insurance status, and parity. Effect modifications were evaluated by including an interaction term between each PFAS and fetal sex or maternal race in the models.

RESULTS: We observed significant positive associations between PFOS and 8-isoprostane, with a 9.68% increase in 8-isoprostane levels (95% CI: 0.10%, 20.18%) per interquartile range increase in PFOS. In contrast, PFUA was negatively associated [9.32% (95% CI: -17.68%, -0.11%)], while there were suggestive positive associations for MPAH and PFOA with 8-isoprostane. The associations of several PFAS with 8-OHdG varied by fetal sex, showing generally positive trends in women who delivered females, but negative or null in those who delivered males. No significant effect modification by maternal race was observed.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence linking PFAS exposure to OS during pregnancy, with potential sex-specific effects of certain PFAS on 8-OHdG. Further research should explore additional OS/inflammatory biomarkers and assess the modifying effects of dietary and behavioral patterns across diverse populations.

PMID:38768789 | DOI:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2024.142363

May 2024
An Online Training Module to Increase Knowledge and Awareness of Chemical Exposures and Safety Measures Among Nail Salon Workers
Aurora B Le

J Occup Environ Med. 2024 May 21. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000003153. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: We developed an online training module targeting nail salon workers’ knowledge of chemical exposure and safety, responding directly to the workers’ expressed needs in a Midwest State.

METHODS: Following a needs assessment, we designed and developed the module content. Implementation and evaluation approaches were rolled out into three phases.

RESULTS: Seven workers completed the English version of the module and 24 workers completed the Vietnamese version. The average pre-test scores for those who completed the English and Vietnamese versions of the training were 81.43% and 58.33% respectively. The average post-test score was 98.57% for English and 91.67% for Vietnamese.

CONCLUSION: Culturally appropriate educational resources are effective facets of enhancing nail salon workers’ awareness, and their occupational health subsequently.

PMID:38769077 | DOI:10.1097/JOM.0000000000003153

May 2024
Urinary concentrations of phthalate metabolites in relation to preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in the environmental influences on child health outcomes (ECHO) program
John D Meeker

Environ Int. 2024 May;187:108678. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2024.108678. Epub 2024 Apr 20.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Phthalate exposure may contribute to hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP), including preeclampsia/eclampsia (PE/E), but epidemiologic studies are lacking.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate associations of pregnancy phthalate exposure with development of PE/E and HDP.

METHODS: Using data from 3,430 participants in eight Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program cohorts (enrolled from 1999 to 2019), we quantified concentrations of 13 phthalate metabolites (8 measured in all cohorts, 13 in a subset of four cohorts) in urine samples collected at least once during pregnancy. We operationalized outcomes as PE/E and composite HDP (PE/E and/or gestational hypertension). After correcting phthalate metabolite concentrations for urinary dilution, we evaluated covariate-adjusted associations of individual phthalates with odds of PE/E or composite HDP via generalized estimating equations, and the phthalate mixture via quantile-based g-computation. We also explored effect measure modification by fetal sex using stratified models. Effect estimates are reported as odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs).

RESULTS: In adjusted analyses, a doubling of mono-benzyl phthalate (MBzP) and of mono (3-carboxypropyl) phthalate (MCPP) concentrations was associated with higher odds of PE/E as well as composite HDP, with somewhat larger associations for PE/E. For example, a doubling of MCPP was associated with 1.12 times the odds of PE/E (95%CI 1.00, 1.24) and 1.02 times the odds of composite HDP (95%CI 1.00, 1.05). A quartile increase in the phthalate mixture was associated with 1.27 times the odds of PE/E (95%CI 0.94, 1.70). A doubling of mono-carboxy isononyl phthalate (MCiNP) and of mono-carboxy isooctyl phthalate (MCiOP) concentrations were associated with 1.08 (95%CI 1.00, 1.17) and 1.11 (95%CI 1.03, 1.19) times the odds of PE/E. Effect estimates for PE/E were generally larger among pregnancies carrying female fetuses.

DISCUSSION: In this study, multiple phthalates were associated with higher odds of PE/E and HDP. Estimates were precise and some were low in magnitude. Interventions to reduce phthalate exposures during pregnancy may help mitigate risk of these conditions.

PMID:38696977 | DOI:10.1016/j.envint.2024.108678

May 2024
Cross-Sectional Associations between Prenatal Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances and Bioactive Lipids in Three Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Cohorts
John D Meeker

Environ Sci Technol. 2024 May 14;58(19):8264-8277. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.4c00094. Epub 2024 May 1.

ABSTRACT

Prenatal per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure may influence gestational outcomes through bioactive lipids─metabolic and inflammation pathway indicators. We estimated associations between prenatal PFAS exposure and bioactive lipids, measuring 12 serum PFAS and 50 plasma bioactive lipids in 414 pregnant women (median 17.4 weeks’ gestation) from three Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes Program cohorts. Pairwise association estimates across cohorts were obtained through linear mixed models and meta-analysis, adjusting the former for false discovery rates. Associations between the PFAS mixture and bioactive lipids were estimated using quantile g-computation. Pairwise analyses revealed bioactive lipid levels associated with PFDeA, PFNA, PFOA, and PFUdA (p < 0.05) across three enzymatic pathways (cyclooxygenase, cytochrome p450, lipoxygenase) in at least one combined cohort analysis, and PFOA and PFUdA (q < 0.2) in one linear mixed model. The strongest signature revealed doubling in PFOA corresponding with PGD2 (cyclooxygenase pathway; +24.3%, 95% CI: 7.3-43.9%) in the combined cohort. Mixture analysis revealed nine positive associations across all pathways with the PFAS mixture, the strongest signature indicating a quartile increase in the PFAS mixture associated with PGD2 (+34%, 95% CI: 8-66%), primarily driven by PFOS. Bioactive lipids emerged as prenatal PFAS exposure biomarkers, deepening insights into PFAS' influence on pregnancy outcomes.

PMID:38691655 | PMC:PMC11097396 | DOI:10.1021/acs.est.4c00094

April 2024
Precarious Work and Housing for Michigan Farmworkers During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond
Alexis J Handal

J Agromedicine. 2024 Apr 23:1-19. doi: 10.1080/1059924X.2024.2341803. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Farmworkers in Michigan face precarious and exploitative labor conditions that affect their access to affordable, fair, and quality housing, which are key social determinants of health. We sought to assess the health, working conditions, and housing access, affordability, and quality of farmworkers living in and outside of employer-provided housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: We conducted a mixed methods cross-sectional study in collaboration with community partners from the Michigan Farmworker Project and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. We assessed housing, labor conditions, and general health through in-depth phone interviews with seasonal, migrant, and H-2A farmworkers (n = 63) during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-2021) in Michigan. Descriptive analyses of these data included comparisons by type of farmworker and type of housing (employer-provided or other).

RESULTS: The majority of farmworkers interviewed were women and seasonal farmworkers and spoke primarily Spanish. A significant share of farmworker participants reported living in poverty (38.3%) and had low or very low food security (27.0%). Nearly half of farmworkers (47.6%) rated their health as “fair” or “poor” during the year prior to the interview, and more than a third reported 3 or more chronic conditions (39.6%) and lack of health insurance coverage (38.7%). Among the 43 workers tested, 25.6% reported testing positive for COVID-19. Farmworkers reported experiences of objectification and dehumanization. Three-quarters of workers reported feeling that they were treated as less than human by supervisors and one-third reported verbal abuse. Farmworkers also experienced challenges exacerbated by their social vulnerability that impeded them from finding affordable, quality housing. Regarding housing quality, the majority of workers (80.6%) reported one or more environmental hazards around their residence, and about a third reported not having air conditioning (33.%) and lacking a functioning washing machine (33.9%). Concerns about the quality of drinking water accessible to workers and exposure to chemicals were shared by participants.

CONCLUSION: This study adds valuable knowledge to the understanding of the systemic barriers to housing and work conditions for female and male seasonal, migrant, and H-2A farmworkers in Michigan. Shortcomings in the regulatory and policy environment result in precarious housing and work conditions, including exploitative labor practices. These conditions negate equality, fairness, and health equity, important tenants for public health.

PMID:38651537 | DOI:10.1080/1059924X.2024.2341803

April 2024
A pilot study on psychosocial factors and perceptions of organizational health among a sample of U.S. waste workers
Richard L Neitzel

Sci Rep. 2024 Apr 22;14(1):9185. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-59912-9.

ABSTRACT

Solid waste workers encounter a number of occupational hazards that are likely to induce stress. Thus, there are likely to be psychosocial factors that also contribute to their overall perceptions of organizational health. However, attitudes regarding the aforementioned among solid waste workers’ have not been assessed. This descriptive, cross-sectional pilot study operationalized the INPUTS Survey to determine workers’ perceptions of organizational health and other psychosocial factors of work. Percentage and mean responses to each INPUTS domain are presented in accordance with their survey manual. Pearson’s chi-squared tests were run on count data; Fisher’s exact tests were run for count data with fewer than five samples. ANOVAs were run on the continuous items. Due to a relatively low sample size (N = 68), two-sided p values < 0.1 were considered statistically significant. Most solid waste worker participants reported high decision authority, that they perceived their management to prioritize workplace health and safety, and had high job satisfaction. However, perceptions of support for health outside of the realm of occupational safety and health was lower. Addressing traditional occupational health hazards continues to take precedence in this industry, with less of a focus on how the social determinants of health may impact workplace health.

PMID:38649762 | PMC:PMC11035587 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-024-59912-9

April 2024
A pilot study on psychosocial factors and perceptions of organizational health among a sample of U.S. waste workers
Aurora B Le

Sci Rep. 2024 Apr 22;14(1):9185. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-59912-9.

ABSTRACT

Solid waste workers encounter a number of occupational hazards that are likely to induce stress. Thus, there are likely to be psychosocial factors that also contribute to their overall perceptions of organizational health. However, attitudes regarding the aforementioned among solid waste workers’ have not been assessed. This descriptive, cross-sectional pilot study operationalized the INPUTS Survey to determine workers’ perceptions of organizational health and other psychosocial factors of work. Percentage and mean responses to each INPUTS domain are presented in accordance with their survey manual. Pearson’s chi-squared tests were run on count data; Fisher’s exact tests were run for count data with fewer than five samples. ANOVAs were run on the continuous items. Due to a relatively low sample size (N = 68), two-sided p values < 0.1 were considered statistically significant. Most solid waste worker participants reported high decision authority, that they perceived their management to prioritize workplace health and safety, and had high job satisfaction. However, perceptions of support for health outside of the realm of occupational safety and health was lower. Addressing traditional occupational health hazards continues to take precedence in this industry, with less of a focus on how the social determinants of health may impact workplace health.

PMID:38649762 | PMC:PMC11035587 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-024-59912-9

April 2024
Defining a systems framework for characterizing physical work demands with wearable sensors
Leia Stirling

Ann Work Expo Health. 2024 Apr 10:wxae024. doi: 10.1093/annweh/wxae024. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

Measuring the physical demands of work is important in understanding the relationship between exposure to these job demands and their impact on the safety, health, and well-being of working people. However, work is changing and our knowledge of job demands should also evolve in anticipation of these changes. New opportunities exist for noninvasive long-term measures of physical demands through wearable motion sensors, including inertial measurement units, heart rate monitors, and muscle activity monitors. Inertial measurement units combine accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers to provide continuous measurement of a segment’s motion and the ability to estimate orientation in 3-dimensional space. There is a need for a system-thinking perspective on how and when to apply these wearable sensors within the context of research and practice surrounding the measurement of physical job demands. In this paper, a framework is presented for measuring the physical work demands that can guide designers, researchers, and users to integrate and implement these advanced sensor technologies in a way that is relevant to the decision-making needs for physical demand assessment. We (i) present a literature review of the way physical demands are currently being measured, (ii) present a framework that extends the International Classification of Functioning to guide how technology can measure the facets of work, (iii) provide a background on wearable motion sensing, and (iv) define 3 categories of decision-making that influence the questions that we can ask and measures that are needed. By forming questions within these categories at each level of the framework, this approach encourages thinking about the systems-level problems inherent in the workplace and how they manifest at different scales. Applying this framework provides a systems approach to guide study designs and methodological approaches to study how work is changing and how it impacts worker safety, health, and well-being.

PMID:38597679 | DOI:10.1093/annweh/wxae024

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Videos

Keeping e-waste workers healthy and safe

In an interview with Rick Nietzel, we learn about the rewarding experiences of students working with electronic waste abroad in Thailand, with photos and videos illustrating the type of work being done with this project.

 

Death of a Flip Phone

In an informational video describing the dangerous metals and plastic compounds contained in old phones, we learn about the ways electronic waste negatively affects the environment when it is not properly managed.