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The theme of the University of Washington based Center for Child Environmental Health Risks Research (CHC) is understanding the biochemical, molecular and exposure mechanisms that define children’s susceptibility to pesticides and the implications for assessing pesticide risks to normal development and learning. The CHC is a multi-disciplinary research center that takes advantage of the established landscape of risk research at the University of Washington; it is administratively housed within the Institute for Risk Analysis and Risk Communication that is in the UW’s School of Public Health and Community Medicine.

To facilitate both basic and applied research on reducing the adverse effects of environmental pesticide exposures, center participants include members from multiple institutions, schools, and varied departments and clinics. To achieve tangible effects on the community, the CHC includes a partnership with an eastern Washington community within the Yakima Valley agricultural center of our state, to jointly accomplish pesticide intervention with reduced childhood pesticide exposures.

The CHC is comprised of two laboratory based research projects, two field based projects, and four facility cores. The specific objectives of the laboratory based research projects are to:

  • identify cellular, biochemical and molecular mechanisms for the adverse developmental neurotoxicity of pesticides and
  • identify the impact of genetic polymorphisms for paraoxonase on the developmental neurotoxicity of organophosphate pesticides.

The specific objectives of the two field based projects-a pesticide exposure pathways research project plus the related community based intervention study are to:

  • identify critical pathways of pesticide exposure for children and
  • to develop a culturally-appropriate intervention to break the take-home pathway that will ultimately result in reducing children’s exposure to pesticides.

The four facility cores (Neurobehavioral Assessment, Exposure Assessment, Risk Characterization and Risk Communication) are designed to support the research agenda and to put the research into a child specific risk assessment context. Thus the scientific findings on pesticide toxicity and exposure can be directly incorporated into risk assessment models that are designed to protect child health.

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