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Updates and Opportunities

What’s new? 

The Curl Agricultural Health Lab has some exciting news: all the participants enrolled in our Organic Food Study officially completed their participation in the research project in August! We were able to follow 19 of our 20 participants from the beginning of their second trimester through birth, and we collected a total of 461 of the 500 urine samples originally projected.

Urine samples from the first 10 moms were sent to the CDC for sample analysis in February of 2017, and the second set of samples were sent in mid-August. We recently received the urine sample data back from the CDC and are currently analyzing those results, so be sure to check back in with our page for updates regarding our analysis.

We would like to extend another thank you to everyone who helped us fundraise through our  PonyUp campaign and the local Women, Infant and Children (WIC) clinics for aiding with recruitment. The fundraising money allowed us to expand our project from including 10 pregnant women in this pilot study to a total of 20 women, and the WIC clinics made it possible to successfully reach our recruitment goals.

Along with the organic dietary intervention study, Dr. Curl has continued work with a project that was awarded additional funding and has also started a new project. In 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded a project to assess inorganic bromide (Br-) 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 initial funding for the MeBr project helped Dr. Curl and researchers from the University of Idaho establish how Br is taken up in different crops and what may affect uptake. Continued funding supports subsequent aims to: 1) assess the trajectory of Br- concentrations in tissues over time; 2) determine the uptake of Br- in crops with nematicidal/biofumigant properties; and 3) develop a model for predicting Br- concentrations in plant tissues based on measured concentrations in soil samples.

Dr. Curl’s newest project was funded by the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, and she is collaborating with Dr. Karin Adams, Assistant Professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Health at Boise State, to help farmers and growers identify and mitigate hazards faced when producing potatoes. This research is contributing to the limited knowledge of safety hazards specific to the potato industry, and this information is extremely important for the state of Idaho and Pacific Northwest overall due to our reliance on potato production for our economy. Dr. Curl and Dr. Adams are working collaboratively with the Idaho and Washington State Potato Commission to meet the aims of this project, which includes understanding potato grower perceptions of highest priority safety hazards, the development of a guided hazard self-assessment tool, and an assessment of both the usage rate and influence of the tool among growers. Additional information about this study can be found here.

Finally, Dr. Curl acted as a mentor for the former Research Coordinator for the Curl Agricultural Health Lab, Jessica Porter, regarding a pilot project funded by the Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety during this past summer. The overall goal of this project was to develop a tool to identify differential hazards between organic and conventional potato production, and part of this process involved establishing the pest management practices that differed most between these two production methods. Jessica had the opportunity to visit farms in Idaho and see some of these pest management practices in person, and some pictures from these visits can be found in a slideshow of her project here.

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!