The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), Office on Women’s Health (OWH) is seeking innovative ways to combat the impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on Black or African American women.
The HHS OWH is charged with providing expert advice and consultation to the Secretary on scientific, legal, ethical, and policy issues relating to women’s health. OWH establishes short- and long-term goals within the Department and coordinates on activities within the Department that relate to disease prevention, health promotion, service delivery, research, and public and health care professional education for issues of particular concern to women throughout their lifespan. OWH also leads the Coordinating Committee on Women’s Health. Additionally, OWH is responsible for facilitating the exchange of information through the National Women’s Health Information Center. Addressing inequities in women’s health is a focus area for OWH.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances in the environment, food, and consumer products (metals, many industrial chemicals, natural and synthetic hormones, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, pharmaceutical drugs, plastics/plasticizers, and fuels) that interfere with hormone biosynthesis, metabolism, or action resulting in a deviation from normal homeostatic control or reproduction.1 Some of the major known EDCs found in water include disinfection byproducts, fluorinated substances, bisphenols (chemicals used in plastics, epoxy resins, and thermal paper), phthalates (chemicals used in plastics/plasticizers), pesticides, and natural and synthetic estrogens. Exposure to these compounds is associated with adverse health and reproductive outcomes in non-human animals and humans; thus, the presence of these chemicals in water has become a public health concern.2
There are significant health disparities among women impacted by EDCs.3 Research has shown that non-Hispanic Blacks have higher serum and/or urinary EDC concentrations compared to non-Hispanic Whites. 4 Additionally, Black or African Americans were noted to have higher exposures to diabetogenic EDCs, including polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, multiple chemical constituents of air pollution, bisphenol A, and phthalates.5 One study evaluated hair products used by Black women and noted multiple chemicals associated with endocrine disruption and asthma.6 Additionally, studies link environmental estrogen and EDC exposure through personal care products to breast cancer risk in Black or African Americans.7 Furthermore, pregnant non-Hispanic Black or African American women have higher concentrations of phthalates and parabens.8
Many racial and ethnic disparities in health can be traced to the cumulative effect of higher levels of exposure in racial/ethnic minorities, in combination with disparities in the availability of resources considered to be protective factors, such as green spaces or healthy food options.9 OWH is committed to advancing health equity by addressing gaps in knowledge of EDC risks and providing solutions to reduce EDC exposure risks on Black or African American women.
OWH is creating a national competition to identify innovative programs that address gaps in knowledge and provide solutions to reduce EDC exposure risk for people at risk of EDC exposure where the programs could be or are already applied to Black or African American women. The goal of this competition is to identify and fund programs that demonstrate effectiveness, sustainability, and the ability to replicate and/or expand interventions that address gaps in knowledge and provide solutions to reduce EDC exposure risk for Black or African American women.
Subject and Scope of Prize Competition
The program must demonstrate evidence-based interventions to target knowledge gaps in understanding the risks associated with EDCs and offer populations served effective resources on how to mitigate their EDC exposure risks. The program will be shared with the general public, including through informational webinars, websites, social media, and listservs.
Total Cash Prize Pool
Phase 1 FY21 (Identification of innovative programs): Up to 15 submissions may be selected to each receive a prize of up to $40,000.
Phase 2 FY22 (Awarding programs with demonstrated effectiveness): The participants selected to receive a prize for Phase 1 may compete for consideration to receive a prize in Phase 2. Up to 8 submissions may be selected to each receive a prize of up to $70,000.
Phase 3 FY23 (Awarding programs that have successfully replicated and/or expanded): The participants selected to receive a prize in Phase 2 may compete for consideration to receive a prize in Phase 3. Up to 2 submissions may be selected to each receive a prize of up to $97,500.