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Environmental Health

Environmental health encompasses some of today’s most critical and complex public health challenges. Battelle provides effective solutions to these challenges – from characterizing environmental and climate risks to assessing and managing their impacts on human health. Our toxicological assessments have been used to set government priorities for chemical exposure and help private and public entities balance and manage environmental risks.

Applications

The environment and human health are intertwined. Determining exactly how the environment influences human health is a complicated endeavor. Our team of experts can help you identify patterns of environmental health risks to better determine effective policies and programs. 

We provide accurate, trusted data to guide environmental health decisions.
Contact one of our experts today to learn more.
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Services

Our services include:

Toxic Chemical Characterization

Battelle has been active since the 1980s in supporting the characterization of hazardous and toxic substances such as asbestos and lead. For more than 20 years, we have provided rulemaking, risk assessment and risk management support to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, helping the nation realize tremendous reductions in overall childhood lead exposure levels and the number of lead poisoning cases. Battelle also has supported toxic chemical risk assessment and reduction, increasing access to chemical data, and promoting the design and use of safer chemicals as part of the EPA’s existing chemicals program.

Toxicological Assessment of Health Effects
Battelle provides industry-leading general toxicology services for the environmental health agencies as well as the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and agrochemical industries. We execute routine and non-traditional toxicology studies, customizing our services to meet the unique needs of each client. Our scientists deliver superior results to support Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) and non-GLP testing, determination of toxicology and carcinogenicity for environmental contaminants, and development of investigational new drugs.

Data Visualization for Environmental and Health Applications
Battelle leads projects in environmental and health data visualization using cutting-edge techniques to communicate complex scientific information to policymakers, resource managers and the public.

Satellite and Ground-Based Monitoring Data Analysis
Battelle has pioneered the use of satellite data to supplement ground-based measurements of air quality, meteorological, solar, wind, land cover, socioeconomic and vegetation parameters. We have extensive experience converting information into geo-spatial indicators, for communication with non-technical audiences. 

Climate Change Impacts: Boosting the Resilience of Vulnerable Populations
Understanding the range of potential impacts anticipated from climate change, and the uncertainty with climate projections and impacts, is critical to support decision-making in a wide variety of sectors including health, energy, agriculture, water resources and transportation. From Southeast Asia to the Northeastern U.S., Battelle has examined the combination of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity that makes populations vulnerable to specific climate changes. These data are evaluated in GIS-analysis along with socioeconomic data and livelihoods, to develop robust analyses of vulnerability and assess potential adaptation options to boost resilience.

Benefits

Our research has been used to set EPA priorities for chemical exposure and help organizations balance and manage environmental risks.

Predicting Childhood Lead Exposure at the Census Tract Level

Challenge

Although lead exposure among U.S. children is declining, significant exposure and subsequent effects remain and harm children disproportionately in certain communities. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) estimates childhood lead exposure at a national level, but the data is insufficient for local programmatic decision-making. Identifying disproportionately affected communities remains difficult. State or local blood-lead surveillance data is not universally available; for example, seventeen states do not maintain blood-lead level (BLL) surveillance systems necessary to provide data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thus, many U.S. communities have no BLL monitoring results, hindering efforts to reduce lead’s impact.

Solution

To address this challenge, Battelle developed a blood-lead prediction model that is applicable at the census tract level across the U.S. The model relies upon predictors available nationwide and can be applied to provide useful, population-level estimates of BLL in areas without available surveillance data. In addition, researchers developed community-scale estimates in a manner that can provide a template for community-scale estimates of other toxic substances. Our approach was to develop a regression model that could predict a child’s BLL (in micrograms of lead per deciliter of whole blood, µg/dL) as a function of predictors which are available for each U.S. census tract. Census tracts are intended to contain populations that are reasonably homogenous in terms of socioeconomic composition. Census tract-level predictions could also be aggregated to form predictions for communities defining themselves as broader geographic areas.

To help identify demographic predictors, we reviewed the literature to identify modeling results which relate childhood lead exposure, as measured by BLL, to predictive factors available at different spatial scales. The demographic predictor data was obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau based on information collected in the American Community Survey. For modeling purposes, we obtained surveillance data from the State of Michigan, Commonwealth of Massachusetts and State of Texas, collected as part of their public health programs. We merged the blood-lead data by census tract with the demographic predictor data. In addition to the predictors available at the census tract level, we also included the season of the blood-lead sampling, whether a capillary or venous blood sample was drawn, the age of the child and the year of the sample to account for long-term trends.

4 predicted BLL demographic comparison maps

Outcome

Combining the fitted regression model with readily available U.S. Census demographic predictor data provides predicted child BLL distributions at the census tract level for children of different ages or for populations at different points in time. These predictions provide a powerful quantitative tool for public health and housing officials and other stakeholders in childhood lead poisoning prevention. In particular, these distributions can be used to assess the number of children at risk in different parts of the urban area, which then can be used to help assess various intervention and resource allocation options. For example, the maps in the figure below provide predicted geometric mean BLLs at the census tract level for the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in Texas, along with census tract-level information on race (percentage Black), older housing (percentage built before 1960), and income level (percentage below the poverty level). By considering the demographic maps along with the BLL map, potential correlations can be considered at a useful level of geographic specificity when planning public health interventions or other types of actions.