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Asa Bradman: Environmental Exposure in California

Posted by Lauren Hertel on Wednesday, June 28 2017

Fellows: 

Dr. Asa Bradman is an environmental health scientist and expert in exposure assessment and epidemiology focusing on occupational and environmental exposures to pregnant women and children. He co-founded the Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health (CERCH) in the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and directs an initiative to improve environmental quality in California child care facilities.

Bradman has been interested in children’s health, pesticide exposure, and environmental health since high school. His work at the California state health department led to some projects in the Central Valley, where he worked on studies of children with cancer from pesticide exposure. That in turn led him to become the Founder/Investigator of the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) Study, the longest running longitudinal birth cohort study of pesticides and other environmental exposures among children in a California farmworker community. CHAMACOS means “little children” in Mexican Spanish, which reflects the population they serve. Started in 1999, the original cohort of children are now teenagers, with an additional 300 children added to the study at 9 years of age. The study has produced data on asthma, puberty, neurodevelopment, school performance, ADHD, IQ, graduation rates, and much more.

The next part of the project will look at high school graduation rates and young adult success, exploring how early exposure affects long-term development. The team is also interested in investigating how stressors, such as that of family members going to Arizona to work, compound the effects of early pesticide exposures on overall health. This could lead eventually to policies to support families and health outcomes in many differents ways beyond reducing pesticide exposure.

In addition to his CHAMACOS research, Bradman also conducts pesticide exposure prevention outreach and education to farmworkers with the state Migrant Education program. They are experimenting with reducing take-home pathways of pesticide exposure, for example by providing workers with overalls they can wear and leave at work instead of taking home, and measuring pesticide exposures using silicone wristbands.

Overall, Bradman’s work looks at the intersection of research, community engagement and education to reduce pesticide and other environmental exposures in the most vulnerable population of California, its children. His current projects include:

  • Identification and evaluation of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in child care facilities.
  • Ensuring best practices for expression, handling, and storage of breastmilk.
  • Environmental health outreach and education for child care providers.
  • Integrated pest management training resources for California pest management professionals working in early care and education (ECE) facilities.

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