Recent CEHS research highlighted in publications

Electronic Cigarettes: Their Constituents and Potential Links to Asthma
Clapp, P., and Jaspers, I.

Vaping is gaining popularity in the USA, particularly among teens and young adults. While e-cigs are commonly represented as safer alternatives to tobacco cigarettes, little is known regarding the health effects of their shorter long-term use, especially in individuals with pre-existing respiratory diseases such as asthma. Flavored e-cig liquids (e liquids) and e-cig aerosols contain airway irritants and toxicants that have been implicated in the pathogenesis and worsening of lung diseases. In this review, we will summarize existing data on potential health effects of components present in e-cig aerosols, such as propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings, and discuss their relevance in the context of asthma.

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Research publications archived by year:

Shale gas

High-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHF, often referred to as “hydrofracking” or “fracking”) is a drilling technology in which water mixed with sand and chemicals is injected into drilled wells to enhance the extraction of natural gas from deep shale formations. This technique has vastly increased the potential for domestic natural gas production, and has been promoted as a way to decrease dependence on foreign energy sources, replace dirtier energy sources like coal, and generate new jobs and economic development. However, the rapid expansion of shale gas extraction has resulted in documented impacts on human health and raised concerns about long-term, cumulative, and intergenerational impacts on individuals and communities. Research is ongoing to determine how human health, particularly that of vulnerable populations such as children and low-income rural populations, may be impacted.

The UNC-CEHS COEC staff has partnered with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Cincinnati and University of Rochester to assess community information needs and understand the factors that affect the public’s perception of risk related to shale gas extraction. The projects were funded through supplemental grants by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and resulted in the development of the following resources for NIEHS:

fracking podcast

A Second Look at the Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing podcast

A podcast featuring Dr. Trevor Penning from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and UNC-CEHS COEC director Kathleen Gray, who discuss how our understanding of the impacts of fracking has evolved over the past few years.

A factsheet about hydraulic fracturing and the potential health risks for people living near drilling sites.

A public radio program in which a panel of experts discuss fracking in North Carolina.

The UNC-CEHS COEC and other Centers formed a working group to review the literature on the potential public health impacts of HVHF and to make recommendations for needed research. These recommendations can be found in “Environmental health research recommendations from the inter-environmental health sciences core center working group on unconventional natural gas drilling operations,” published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

In addition, the UNC COEC collaborated with University of Cincinnati to conduct a community information needs assessment in order to integrate community leaders’ knowledge, perceptions, and concerns into the research agenda prior to initiation of local unconventional natural gas development. A summary of the assessment and its implications can be found in “Unconventional natural gas development and public health: toward a community-informed research agenda,” published in Reviews in Environmental Health.

Additional resources