(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Nov. 5, 2013) The California Wellness Foundation has awarded California Lutheran University a $100,000 grant to study the neurobehavioral effects of pesticide exposure among Oxnard residents.
The one-year grant will enable an interdisciplinary team of faculty members and students to interview 30 to 50 people and test their concentration, memory, information-processing speed, motor speed and visuospatial skills. The researchers will compare results among three groups who may have different levels of pesticide exposure. These are farmworkers, people who live within one-half mile of farmland, and others who live more than one half-mile from farmland.
Even though California has the highest agricultural production in the United States, few studies have examined the effects of pesticide exposure on neurobehavioral performance within the state.
Researchers Rachel Casas, Grady Hanrahan and Haco Hoang will use the results of this study as they develop a model for environmental justice as part of another project previously funded by the California Wellness Foundation. In that study, they are assessing Oxnard farmworkers’ exposure to pesticides and their knowledge of related health risks, and developing policy recommendations for promoting social justice in low-income communities of Ventura County.
Casas is an assistant professor of psychology and a clinical neuropsychologist with expertise in cognitive assessment of ethnic and linguistic minority populations. The National Institutes of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation and the American Psychological Association have funded her work.
Hanrahan is the John Stauffer Endowed Professor of Analytical Chemistry. He has considerable experience in environmental analysis, particularly in low-income populations. He was involved in a National Institutes of Health study of chemicals in air pollutants and their effect on human health in the East Los Angeles region.
Hoang is an associate professor of political science. She has served as a policy analyst and consultant on projects related to education, community development and civic capacity-building, particularly in low-income and minority communities. She has presented her research to the Urban Affairs Association and other organizations.