CHEP - Areas of Interest
CHEP interacts with the Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland (GCI) by providing focal area leadership on the impact of global change on population health. Dr Paul Jagals, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland (SPH) and Professor Peter Sly provide focal area leadership in Environmental Health for the Global Change Institute. This provides the link between the other GCI focal areas and health outcomes.
Collaborative projects assessing the health impacts of various aspects of global change are being developed.
CHEP has established collaborations with the School of Population Health, The University of Queensland (SPH) including adding a children's environmental health focus to the Master of Philosopy (MPhil) program and bringing Research Higher Degree Students to the school. Areas of future collaboration include: assessing the environmental contribution to the burden of disease in children; increasing the "child" focus of existing and new population health research; developing joint education programs in children's environmental health.
Particularly strong links have been established with Dr Paul Jagals within the School of Population Health and the joint appointment of Senior Lecturer, Dr Rosana Norman to provide input into courses in Children's Environmental Health, developing joint research programs and joint supervision of Research Higher Degree students.
Collaborations with National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology, The University of Queensland (Entox) have already been established combining the expertise in quantifying exposures to harmful chemical in the environment with paediatric epidemiology and health outcome expertise. Strong collaborative links have been established, in particular with Professor Jochen Mueller and Dr. Amy Heffernan.
Collaborative studies underway or in the planning include:
- Optimising techniques for assessing exposure of infants and young children to environmental chemicals
- Assessing impact of pesticide exposure on semen quality in young men
- Measuring environmental exposures and their health consequences in birth cohort studies.
Little Things Matter: The Impact of Toxins on the Developing Brain
A seven minute video, presented by Dr Bruce Lanphear, helps people understand the population impact of exposures to environmental toxins. After studying the impact of toxins on children for many years researchers have reached the conclusion that “little things matter”. The presentation is very graphical and easy to follow and ends with a list of suggestions to help avoid exposure to toxins.
Evidence is accumulating that climate change is resulting in a change in the distribution of infections, especially food, water and vector-borne diseases. Such changes will result in Australia facing an increase in diseases our work force is not trained to handle. Collaborations within CHRC (Infection, Inflammation and the Environment theme) and with The University of Queensland Australian Infectious Disease (AID) Research Centrewill see CHEP well placed to contribute to an improved outcome for Australian children. In addition, we have seen the impact on human health of zoonoses. Existing collaborations between CHRC and the School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland can be extended to help address such issues in children's health.
Education & Training
There is a general lack of awareness of the particular vulnerability of children to adverse environmental exposures. CHEP will collaborate with existing groups within The University of Queensland to produce and deliver educational material on children's environmental health that can be used for under graduate and post graduate students, continuing education of health care professionals, environmental health officers and interested members of the public.
Global outreach & capacity building
CHEP has strong links with the Public Health & Environment section of World Health Organisation (WHO), Geneva and with the network of WHO Collaborating Centres in Children's Environmental Health, as well as with other international organisations including:
- The Pacific Basin Consortium (PBC) for the Environment & Health
- The National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Basic Research program
- Professional societies in this area.
CHEP is also involved in advising scientists in developing countries, including Brazil, Thailand, China, Mexico and South Africa and providing the expertise required to undertake successful research programs. This extensive network of international collaborators provides an opportunity for The University of Queensland researchers to interact with keen scientists in developing countries and provides excellent opportunities for training staff, both ours and theirs.
CHEP provides The University of Queensland with the opportunity to take a leadership role in engaging the public in children's environmental health and in child health advocacy. CHEP has recently taken over producing the Healthy Environments for Children Alliance newsletter, a joint venture from WHO and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Public interest groups, such as the National Toxics Network exist and engaging with such groups and providing them with accurate information will not only increase the public awareness in this area but ensure that The University of Queensland is at the forefront of the debate.
Neurodevelopment and Mental Health
CHEP is collaborating on several projects investigating the impact of environmental exposures on neurodevelopment and mental health in children. CHEP and ENTOX are providing expertise in environmental monitoring to the Barwon Infant Study, co-ordinated by Dr. Peter Vuillermin and Professor Anne-Louise Ponsonby, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne.
Associate Professor James Scott has joined CHEP as an "external member" and will lead a Mental Health Group. Initial research will centre on bullying in children.