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Updates and Opportunities

What’s new? 

The Curl Agricultural Health Lab has some exciting news: Dr. Cynthia Curl was awarded a $457,537 grant from the National Institute of Health to conduct a study on residential and dietary herbicide exposures in pregnant women. Specifically, exposure to glyphosate, an active ingredient found in many herbicides, will be characterized in a cohort of 40 pregnant women who live in both urban and rural areas, and who will be provided either organic or conventional diets. In 2016, glyphosate was declared a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and despite its potential toxicity and widespread use, research on human exposure to glyphosate is limited. Dr. Curl and her team are working to understand exposure levels and pathways in pregnant women. This three-year study begins this fall.

In addition, our research team is collaborating with the Idaho and Washington State Potato Commissions on a project to help farmers and growers identify and mitigate hazards faced when producing potatoes. This research, funded by the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, is contributing to the limited knowledge of safety hazards specific to the potato industry – an industry with obvious importance to the state of Idaho and the Pacific Northwest! This project begins by understanding the concerns of potato growers, in terms of their highest priority safety hazards. Based on their feedback, we are developing a guided hazard self-assessment tool, and plan to track the utility of this tool among growers. In February, Dr. Curl presented the results of the survey at the Agricultural Safety Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona. The ten most common tasks associated with injury were identified, and growers perceived bending, twisting, and lifting tasks to result in the most common and severe injuries, as well as potato sorting. Our research group is currently working on developing the Hazard Assessment tool, including recommended safety practices, that growers will be able to use on their own farms. The tool will encourage growers to identify, assess, and mitigate potential hazards that they encounter on their own operations.

Other exciting news: the results from the Dietary Intervention Study are in! Check back here for updates when these results are published.

Dr. Curl is also continuing work on a project that was awarded funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assess inorganic bromide uptake in crops grown in fields in eastern Idaho previously fumigated with methyl bromide (MeBr). Adverse health effects were observed in cattle who consumed crops grown in these treated fields, an unexpected outcome since MeBr was applied according to label specifications. The funding for the MeBr project helped Dr. Curl and researchers from the University of Idaho establish how inorganic bromide is taken up in different crops and what may affect uptake.

How can I get involved?

Our lab conducts innovative research as it relates to agricultural health, and a key part of innovation arises through collaborative efforts. There are frequent opportunities for Boise State University intern and volunteer positions a the Curl Agricultural Health Lab. If interested, email Dr. Curl at cynthiacurl@boisestate.edu.

Follow our twitter account @AgHealth_BSU for additional news and information!