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I'm pleased to share with you our first UIC SPH Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences newsletter. Each month our newsletter will highlight an environmental and occupational health problem that division members are researching. We will also post announcements highlighting awards, publications, presentations, and upcoming events. 

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What we're working on right now in the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.  November 2019.

How we're investigating the risks of ethylene oxide in Chicago communities
UIC students interviewing participants 

In the past year the Great Lakes Center for Children’s Environmental Health has been involved in risk communication around ethylene oxide exposure from plant emissions in Willowbrook, Illinois and Lake County. Ethylene oxide is a chemical used in medical sterilization and as a precursor for many other chemicals. Long-term exposures may increase the risk of leukemia, lymphoma, and breast cancer compared to people who have not been exposed. In 2016 the US Environmental Protection Agency changed its carcinogenicity rating for ethylene oxide, resulting in a new understanding of the higher calculated risk from exposure to this known carcinogen among residents living near plants in northern Illinois.

The Great Lakes Center for Children’s Environmental Health, which is the EPA and ATSDR-funded Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit for EPA’s Region, housed in EOHS, assisted the DuPage County Health Department and the Region 5 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry with communications with residents, including creating an ethylene oxide fact sheet, participating in weekly planning phone calls, attending several community meetings with concerned residents, and presenting lectures to local healthcare providers.

The Center received additional funding in summer 2019 to conduct medical surveillance of residents living near two facilities in Lake County that were legally emitting ethylene oxide. Dr. Susan Buchanan, director of the center, recruited and trained EOHS students to conduct brief exposure surveys. A local concerned citizens group recruited volunteers for the surveillance. Ninety-three residents participated, answering survey questions and having their blood drawn for ethylene oxide hemoglobin adducts. The results are currently being analyzed, but preliminary results show generally higher ethylene oxide hemoglobin adduct levels among residents living closer to the facilities compared to residents living farther away.



UIC receives UN Global Goal Award for leadership in climate action. Read more here

Dr. Sam Dorevitch received the “Best Poster Award” at the 20th annual International Symposium on Health Related Water Microbiology. The poster “Solar Power Drinking Water Treatment in Rural Kenya” described a promising new technology that Dr. Dorevitch has been evaluating in Kenya since 2016. 

Through the Lead Technical Studies Program, Dr. Apostolis Sambanis, adjunct assistant professor, will be awarded up to $700,000 in research funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Dr. Sam Dorevitch, associate professor, will be awarded up to $1 million through the Lead and Healthy Homes Technical Studies Program in research funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Ben Tate, MPH student, received the 2019 Board Certified Safety Professionals Foundation QAP/GSP Student Scholarship. Congrats Ben!

Tessa Bonney successfully defended her dissertation, titled, Role of Technical Assistance and Relationships in Development of Initiatives to Address Precarious Work. Congratulations Tessa! 


Bonney, T., Welter, C., Jarpe-Ratner, E., Conroy, L.M. Understanding the Role of Academic Partners as Technical Assistance Providers: Results from an Exploratory Study to Address Precarious WorkInt. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 201916, 3903.

Guo,J., Li,Z., Ranasinghe, P., Rockne K.J., Sturchio, N.C., Giesy, J.P., Li, A. Halogenated flame retardants in sediments from the Upper Laurentian Great Lakes: Implications to long-range transport and evidence of long-term transformation. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 121346. 2020.

Han, M., Zhang, R., Yu, K., Li, A., Wang, Y., Huang, X. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Corals of the South China Sea: Occurrence, Distribution, Bioaccumulation, and Considerable Role of Coral Mucus. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 384, 121299. 2020.

Jagai, J. S., Krajewski, A. K., Shaikh, S., Lobdell, D. T., & Sargis, R. M. (2019). Association between environmental quality and diabetes in the USA. Journal of Diabetes Investigation, jdi.13152. https://doi.org/10.1111/jdi.13152

Sambanis, A., Kim, S., Osiecki, K., & Cailas, M. D. (2019). A New Approach to the Social Vulnerability Indices: Decision Tree-Based Vulnerability Classification Model Key Findings. Illinois Policy Research Center No 114  https://illinoisprc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Social-Vulnerability-Indices-Decision-Tree-based-Model_508v2.pdf

Stumpf, M., Sambanis, A., & Cailas, M. (2019). Utilizing HAZUS and PACER SURGE to map and characterize hospitals in Illinois within the New Madrid seismic zone. Progress in Disaster Science, 4, 100048. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.PDISAS.2019.100048

Han, X., Meng, L., Li, Y., Li, A., Turyk, M., Yang, R., Wang, P., Xiao, K., Zhao, J., Zhang, J., Zhang, Q., Jiang G. Associations between the exposure to persistent organic pollutants and type 2 diabetes in East China: a case-control study. Chemosphere, 241, 125030. 2020. 

Velonis, A. J., Hebert‐Beirne, J., Conroy, L. M., Hernandez, M., Castaneda, D., & Forst, L. Impact of precarious work on neighborhood health: Concept mapping by a community/academic partnership. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2019, doi: 10.1002/ajim.23055


The International Water Association (IWA) held its 20th Annual “International Symposium on Health Related Water Microbiology” in Vienna, Austria this past September. At the IWA meeting in Vienna Austria in September 15-19, 2019  Dr. Sam Dorevitch and Dr. Abhilasha Shrestha each presented their research.   Dr. Shrestha’s oral presentation,  “Microbial Source Tracking at Chicago Beaches under Dry and Wet Weather Conditions” was a great success.  For more information about the confrence click here.  

Tessa Bonney, presented Impacts of Technical Assistance in a Capacity Building Process to Address Precarious Work at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Philadelphia on November 5, 2019.

Dr. Christina Welter and Elizabeth Fisher recently presented in two sessions at the Work, Stress, and Health Conference in Philadelphia, November 6-9, 2019.

  • Approaches that Accelerate Research to Practice: Lessons Learned from NIOSH Total Worker Health Centers - Center for Healthy Work
  • Healthy Work Collaborative: Addressing Precarious Work through Social Change

Dr. Kathleen Rospenda presented a poster on Precarious Employment and Health in an Underserved Community: Data from the Greater Lawndale Healthy Work Survey at the Work, Stress, and Health Conference in Philadelphia on November 9, 2019.

Events and Reminders

Join us for EOHS capstone presentations on Thursday December 5th at noon in the 10th floor lobby.

The last EOHS Seminar is Wednesday December 4th where we will have a journal club. Seminar is open to the public, please join us!

UIC SPH has a Graduate Programs Information Session for prospective students on Saturday December 7th from 10-11:30 AM.  For more information please click here.

Join Chicago Jobs with Justice and the UIC School of Public Health on December 3, from 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM at 637 S. Dearborn, Chicago, 60605 for Gig Work: Apps, Transit and the Environment. The event will be a hearing on ride hailing apps and their effect on workers, public transit, and the environment.There will be an opening panel on gig work, public transit, and pollution, and legislative approaches to these problems. RSVP by clicking here.

Join Arise Chicago at their annual Faith - Labor - Action Breakfast on December 18, 2019 at 8:00 AM at 2260 S. Grove Ave, Chicago, 60616. Bob Reiter, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor, will be presenting the keynote address. Register by clicking here.

Next Month

In our December newsletter Dr. Lee Friedman describes his research on injury surveillance of warehouse workers.