Nov 192014

Frontiers of Public Health and Risk Management
Joint Seminar with Society for Risk Analysis – Metro Region

The fall 2014 regional ISES Tri-State (NJ, NY, PA) Chapter meeting was held from 3:00 – 6:00 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014 at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI) of Rutgers University. The meeting was jointly sponsored with the Society for Risk Analysis – Metro Region. Four speakers presented on topics ranging from nanotechnology to climate change broadly encompassing many areas of current interest in exposure science and risk analysis. The common theme and title of the seminar was “Frontiers of Public Health and Risk Management.”

The first presenter was Dr. Gediminas Mainelis, professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University. His presentation, “Exposure to Nanoparticles during use of Nanotechnology-Enabled Consumer Products” highlighted the different ways in which nanomaterials are incorporated into consumer products and unexpected ways in which we may then become exposed to these released nanoparticles. Studies conducted in the Mainelis laboratory can be found here: reference 1, reference 2, reference 3, and reference 4. The second presenter was Ashley DeNegre, PhD candidate in the Rutgers Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources and student of Dr. Nina Fefferman’s lab. Her presentation, “World of Warcraft: Simulating and Controlling Virtual Epidemics” demonstrated how an accidental avatar epidemic taking place in the virtual world of the computer game “World of Warcraft” in 2005 can serve as a model for understanding human behavior during times of widespread sickness and panic. For more information on this field of research, please see reference 1 and reference 2.

The second half of the seminar focused on public health implications of extreme weather events and climate change. Jennifer Gonzalez, LEED Green Associate and Senior Environmental Planner of the Louis Berger Group, presented “Risk Reduction Strategies for Building Resilient Communities.” Her presentation was on a community based approach for assessing the areas of most impact for flooding events in the case of a 10 or 100 year storm in and around Hoboken/Jersey City/NYC. The final presentation was by Dr. Jaime Madrigano, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Rutgers School of Public Health. Her presentation “Climate Change and Public Health,” provided evidence for interplay between social/environmental factors in NYC and vulnerability to heat wave mortality as a consequence of climate change. Her presentation also touched on the influence of the cleanliness of fuel use throughout NYC and how it directly impacts public health. For more information, please see reference 1 and reference 2 by Dr. Madrigano. The joint seminar concluded with a networking reception.