Notice Announcing Use of RFA-ES-16-005 "Mechanism for Time-Sensitive Research Opportunities in Environmental Health Sciences (R21)" for Hurricane Response Research

Notice Number: NOT-ES-17-008

Key Dates
Release Date: September 27, 2017

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)


The purpose of this Notice is to highlight NIEHS' interest in accepting time-sensitive research applications related to exposures and health outcomes as a consequence of the recent hurricanes of 2017. NIEHS considers Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria to be unpredictable events that provide a limited window of opportunity to collect human biological samples or environmental exposure data, as described in RFA-ES-16-005. Applications should be submitted to RFA-ES-16-005 "Mechanism for Time-Sensitive Research Opportunities in Environmental Health Sciences (R21)". Time-sensitive applications focusing on recent hurricanes  will only be accepted on the following receipt dates: October 2, 2017; November 1, 2017; and December 1, 2017.
The unprecedented and widespread damage caused by recent hurricanes is substantial. The potential for contamination of environments where people live, work and play is considerable. Consequently, the potential for exposures to biological (such as mold, biotoxins from harmful algal blooms) and chemical hazards, as well as social stressors (e.g., displacement, social isolation, racial/ethnic and cultural factors) and subsequent effects on human health for first responders, volunteer workers and residents is of significant concern.  Therefore, this Notice highlights NIEHS' interest in applications to RFA-ES-16-005 that focus on questions of public health importance that will provide insights into exposures and/or potential health effects (physical/behavioral) as an aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Human health studies, environmental exposure assessment, including fate and transport, and high throughput toxicity assessment of chemicals necessary to understand short and/or long-term health effects of chemicals known or suspected to be released into the environment as a consequence of recent hurricanes are topics of interest. Because of the unique nature of these environmental disasters, research such as fate and transport are appropriate for these hurricane response applications. In addition, studies that consider the use of comprehensive approaches to study environmental impacts of the disaster including chemical/biological exposures in combination with social determinants on human health outcomes (physical/behavioral) are sought. It is expected that applications submitted will be conducting research focused on addressing environmental health concerns and that the research conducted will provide information necessary for the rapid translation of the science to protect the health and safety of affected communities. Therefore, applications that propose only creating registries will be considered non-responsive.

Examples of topics of interest include:

  • Human health studies to assess association between potential exposures and health effects on first responders, worker volunteers, and community members. We encourage leveraging existing cohorts or community partnerships.
  • Characterization, identification of sources and quantitation of human exposure to combinations of chemicals through use of personal sensors or biomonitoring using targeted analysis of specific, known chemicals and/or untargeted metabolomic approaches
  • Characterization, identification of sources and quantitation of chemical hazards in water, soil, sediment and air (both ambient and indoor air quality). This can also include fate and transport studies to understand the mobilization and movement of chemicals through environmental matrices for the development of models to predict individual exposures in changing locations and environmental conditions.
  • Characterization of mold species and effects on human health.
  • Characterization of the toxicity of chemical hazards and chemical mixtures known or suspected to be associated with hurricanes using high throughput cell based/in vitro assays and biological systems (e.g., zebrafish, c. elegans)

Note: Applications that focus on use of whole animal studies or small scale in vitro assays (other than those mentioned above) will be considered non-responsive, as described in Section I of RFA-ES-16-005, and should not be submitted to this FOA.

Note: Time-sensitive applications on other topics are still being accepted. For more information about the Time-Sensitive mechanism see RFA-ES-16-005.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Martha I Barnes, M.S.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Telephone: 919-541-3336