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
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. Public health outreach programs use the results to reduce the risk of environmental exposures.
- Wildfire Project – PHITD scientists identify potential health effects of wildfire smoke exposure 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, and to help understand how people respond to smoke exposure. They have also constructed a vulnerability index to identify communities at greatest risk to smoke exposure. Researchers are evaluating how different woods (fuels), burning conditions, and atmospheric processes alter the chemistry of the emissions and associated risk.
- Screening of Methodologically Challenging Chemicals – PHITD scientists are developing New Approach Methods (NAMs) that can predict the toxicity of commercial chemicals that could be inhaled. These systems will assist the EPA in meeting its requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to evaluate potential risks from new and existing chemicals.
- Big Data Studies – PHITD scientists use 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 evaluate the effects of combined exposures to chemical and nonchemical stressors during childhood development on life-long health and risk of disease and explore potential underlying mechanisms.
- Assessment of Drinking Water Contaminants - PHITD scientists assess 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 identify social, dietary and behavioral interventions that can reduce the health burden from environmental pollutants. They evaluate 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.
- Reproductive and developmental outcomes of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)- PHITD scientists evaluate the effects of exposures EDCs during vulnerable life stages on fertility and permanent adverse health outcomes in the offspring.
- Developmental neurotoxicity studies- PHITD scientists develop NAMs and provide case studies to link exposures to chemicals of emerging concern to potential neurobehavioral health outcomes.
David Diaz-Sanchez, Division Director
- Phone: 919-966-0676
Rebecca Daniels, Associate Director
- Phone: 919-541-5734
- Cardiopulmonary and Immunotoxicology Branch (NC), Branch Chief M 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), Branch Chief Erin Hines
- Neurological and Endocrine Toxicology Branch(NC), Branch Chief Tammy Stoker