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About EPA

About the Public Health and Integrated Toxicology Division (PHITD)

The Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment (CPHEA) provides the science needed to understand the complex interrelationship between people and nature in support of assessments and policy to protect human health and ecological integrity. Within CPHEA, sits the Public Health and Integrated Toxicology Division.

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What We Do
Management
Branches/Locations

What We Do

The Public Health and Integrated Toxicology Division (PHITD) performs integrated epidemiological, clinical, animal and cellular biological research and statistical modeling to provide the scientific foundation in support of hazard identification, risk assessment, and standard setting for the purpose of protecting public health and the environment.

PHITD scientists identify at-risk populations and evaluate environmental risk to multiple aspects of human health including reproduction, pregnancy, pre- and postnatal development, and the cardiac, immune, nervous, and endocrine systems. It uses a an “Assay to Outreach” approach where fundamental research is performed to understand toxicological responses and mechanisms; these assays are confirmed in clinical and population-based studies that link environmental conditions to health. The results are used to inform public heath outreach programs to reduce the risk of environmental exposures.

  • Wildfire Project – PHITD scientists are identifying health effects of wildfires and have initiated a citizen science project and a mobile application called Smoke Sense to increase awareness and reduce the risk of known health effects associated with exposure to wildfire smoke, and to help understand how people respond to smoke exposure. They have also constructed a vulnerability index to identify communities at greatest risk and are evaluating how different woods or fuels and burning conditions alter the risk.
  • Screening of volatile chemicals – PHITD scientists are developing novel high-throughput systems that can predict the toxicity of commercial chemicals that could be inhaled. These systems will assist the EPA meet its requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to evaluate potential risks from new and existing chemicals.
  • Big Data Studies – PHITD scientists are using advances in computational approaches such as artificial intelligence to examine extremely large data sets such as medical records, satellite images, and biological data from very large cohorts to identify the modifiable and non-modifiable risks to environmental pollutants. In collaboration with the University of North Carolina, Duke, and Harvard Universities, as well as the German Helmholtz Institute, they are identifying those populations at the greatest risk to the cardiovascular effects of poor air quality.
  • Children’s Environmental Health - PHITD scientists are evaluating the effects of combined exposures to chemical and nonchemical stressors during childhood development on life-long health and risk of disease, and exploring potential underlying mechanisms.
  • Assessment of Drinking Water Contaminants - PHITD scientists are assessing the safety of real-world mixtures of drinking and surface water contaminants by developing cumulative risk models and in vitro approaches to screening by chemical class and researching the toxicity of harmful algal blooms.
  • Identification of Interventions – PHITD scientists are identifying social, dietary and behavioral interventions that can reduce the health burden from environmental pollutants. They are evaluating the effectiveness of strategies to minimize exposure during a wildfire smoke event by examining the health benefits of different masks and household filters.
  • Health Outcomes of NAAQS Pollutants – PHITD scientists are assessing the local and regional characteristics of air pollution that influence public health impacts in healthy and at-risk populations. This project will inform which regional mixtures have greater health impacts, assess the health risks of short-term and long-term exposures, and the risks of neonatal and early life exposure on development of chronic disease.

 

Management

David Diaz-Sanchez, Division Director

  • Phone: 919-966-0676
  • Email: diaz-sanchez.david@epa.gov

Bill Russo, Acting Associate Director

  • Phone: 919-541-7869
  • Email: russo.bill@epa.gov

 

Branches/Locations

  • Cardiopulmonary and Immunotoxicology Branch (NC), Branch Chief Ian Gilmour
  • Clinical Research Branch (NC),  Branch Chief Ana Rappold
  • Inhalation Toxicology Facilities Branch(NC), Branch Chief Mark Higuchi
  • Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology Branch (NC), Acting Branch Chief Erin Hines
  • Neurological and Endocrine Toxicology Branch(NC), Branch Chief Tammy Stoker

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