The Center for Children's Environmental Health Research at the University of California, Berkeley is a fully coordinated, interdisciplinary research program that addresses the unique environmental health needs of children living in a primarily Latino, farmworker community. Over the past 10 years, our research has focused on pesticides: children's routes and levels of exposure, the resulting health consequences, genetic susceptibility and mechanisms of effect, and community-based strategies to reduce exposure. We have developed strong community partnerships with extensive outreach to farmworkers, growers, service providers, and policy makers. We have also leveraged Center resources to obtain additional grants, ncluding resources to examine exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in this population. The keystone of our Center has been the CHAMACOS (Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children Of Salinas) study, a longitudinal cohort of primarily low-income, Mexican immigrant farmworker women and their children living in the agricultural Salinas Valley, California. Women were enrolled during pregnancy and their children have been followed through 7 years of age, providing a unique opportunity to examine prospectively the influence of prenatal and early childhood exposures on children's health. In the third phase of the Center, we propose to follow the CHAMACOS boys from age 9 to age 13 years and to double the size ofthe cohort to 300 boys (girls will be followed under a separate grant). We will expand our focus to a "California mix" of chemicals: dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), which the children were exposed to in utero due to their mothers'exposure in Mexico;manganese (Mn), wtiich is a key component ofthe widely used agricultural fungicides, maneb and mancozeb;and PBDE flame retardants, which are very high in these children due to California's strict flammability standards. In Project A, we will examine the association of DDT, Mn, and PBDEs with neurodevelopment and onset of puberty in boys in the CHAMACOS cohort. In Project B, we will examine novel methods of examining prenatal exposure to these compounds using shed deciduous teeth and GIS methods with remote sensing. In Project 0, we will investigate the effects of exposure on the epigenome and its relationship with pubertal onset. We will expand our outreach to similar populations in California and the US, and engage youth as community partners (GOTO). Our ultimate goal is to translate research findings into sustainable strategies to reduce pesticide and other exposures to children, thus reducing the incidence of environmentally-related disease.
This study will examine several endocrine disrupting and neurotoxic chemicals to which children living in California agricultural communities may be highly exposed: DDT, Mn, and PBDEs. These exposures have relevance beyond farmworker children: PBDE exposure is ubiquitous in the US, Mn is widely used as a fuel additive and in fungicides, and DDT use is increasing globally for malaria control. We will address key data gaps on the human health effects of these compounds crucial for assessing public health costs and benefits.
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