Many students within the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health have expressed an interest in examining the intersection between food and health. Food impacts the health of both humans and the environment, both in relation to how it is grown and what access looks like for various communities. Although there are many reasons why humans choose their diets, often the lack of resources prevents them from making healthy choices. Students are exploring the public health implications of industrial agriculture versus sustainable agriculture and the health impacts of pesticides.
Examples of departmental research on food and health:
Dr. Dana Barr has worked with two migrant farmworker cohorts: one in southern California and one in North Carolina. She has primarily investigated pesticide exposure, the use of personal protective equipment, and behaviors related to these exposures and neurological outcomes. With funding from The Organic Center, Dr. Barr has measured pesticides, antibiotics and synthetic hormones in commercial milk products. In addition, she and Dr. P. Barry Ryan conducted an NIH-funded study to evaluate pesticide residues in baby food.
Dr. Juan Leon works in Mexico to understand routes of microbial contamination of fresh vegetables and fruits to prevent produce outbreaks. In Bolivia, Dr. Leon is researching if malnutrition worsens the effect of the rotavirus vaccine. In the U.S., Dr. Leon's domestic research includes understanding the prevalence of parasitic diseases among immigrant Latin Americans, such as especially Chagas. Dr. Leon is also working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to understand how Latin Americans in the U.S. access care through the American health system, especially when they are at risk for parasitic diseases.