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Using US EPA RSEI Data to Characterize Industrial Heavy Metal Emissions: An application to intellectual disability in Utah

Semester: Summer 2023


Presentation description

Research has documented how exposure to heavy metals, e.g., lead, leads to an increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). Our team has demonstrated that birth year exposures to industrial pollution are associated with ID in Utah. ID impacts one percent of the population and has serious implications for people's intellectual and adaptive functioning. In this project, we use industrial emissions data from the US Environmental Protection Agency's Risk Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) from 2000 through 2009. We focus on those years as this is when the children in our study were born. RSEI data summarize air concentrations of 770 chemicals within 50 kilometers of each reporting facility; these facilities are mandated to report emissions to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). TRI tracks the management of toxic chemicals. Here, we focus on eleven heavy metals and their compounds, i.e., lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, silver, zinc, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, and arsenic. This poster shows temporal trends in emissions and spatial distribution of those emissions. While RSEI data have many strengths, important limitations include that emissions are self-reported by facilities and only annually, making it impossible to link emissions to birth month. The next step is to examine if specific industrial heavy metal exposures during the birth year increase odds of ID for children with and without ASD relative to neurotypical children. We will also investigate synergies in these exposures and if the child's sex or mother's age modifies associations. We will link these RSEI data with birth certificate information from the Utah Population Database. We will next assign heavy metal exposure values to each child based on birth year and maternal residential address using ArcPro and then conduct statistical analyses. Examining these relationships will help us better understand how exposures impact children's development.

Presenter Name: Jackie Gomez

Presentation Type: Poster
Presentation Format: In Person
Presentation #10
College: Social & Behavioral Science
School / Department: Sociology
Research Mentor: Sara Grineski
Date | Time: Thursday, Aug 3rd | 10:30 AM