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

Notice Number: NOT-ES-19-001

Key Dates
Release Date: October 23, 2018

Related Announcements
RFA ES 16-005

Issued by
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)


The unprecedented and widespread damage caused by Hurricanes Florence and Michael is substantial. Consequently, the potential for exposures to biological (such as mold, biotoxins from harmful algal blooms, untreated waste from Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)) and chemical hazards released from industrial, military or other sites (e.g., coal fly ash, PFAS, VOCs, metals), 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 in affected areas are of significant concern. Therefore, this Notice highlights NIEHS' interest in applications 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 Florence and Michael.

Human health studies, environmental exposure assessment, 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 Hurricanes Florence and Michael are topics of interest. Because of the unique nature of these hurricanes, research such as fate and transport and application of promising remediation methods (biological, chemical, and physical) at sites of concern are appropriate. 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.

The purpose of this Notice is to highlight NIEHS' interest in accepting applications related to exposures and health outcomes as a consequence of Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

NIEHS considers Hurricanes Florence and Michael 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)."

In addition, NIEHS is also accepting applications for Administrative Supplements to Exisitng Grants and Cooperative Agreements (see NOT-ES-19-002) and for Urgent Competitive Revisions to Existing Grants and Cooperative Agreements (see NOT-ES-19-003) to support research related to Hurricanes Florence and Michael. The use of the mechanisms described should carefully be considered in the context of the support needed to meet goals of your research question. You are encouraged to contact your Program Officer for guidance.

Applications for all of these types of applications that focus on these recent hurricanes will only be accepted on the following receipt dates: November 1, 2018, December 3, 2018, and January 2, 2019.

Examples of topics of interest include:

Human health studies to assess association between potential exposures (i.e., chemical and biological hazards) 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 and biological hazards through use of personal sensors or biomonitoring using targeted analysis of specific, known chemicals and/or untargeted metabolomic approaches.

  • Characterization of the toxicity of chemical hazards and chemical mixtures known or suspected to be associated with these hurricanes using high throughput cell based/in vitro assays and biological systems (e.g., zebrafish, C. elegans).

  • Characterization of Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) events, associated toxin release and impacts on human health associated with dermal contact with toxins, consumption of contaminated seafood or inhalation of aerosolized toxins.

  • Characterization, source identification, and quantitation of chemical hazards in water, soil, sediment and air (both ambient and indoor air quality) using sensors, portable monitors etc., to identify contamination hotspots relevant to human exposure pathways. Use of innovative, novel detection devices practical in disaster response settings (e.g. portable, rapid, ease-of-use, low energy footprint) are highly encouraged.

  • 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 relevant to Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

  • Application of innovative cleanup approaches practical for use in disaster response settings (e.g. effective, low cost, easily implemented, low energy footprint) to test feasibility and/or remediation effectiveness at sites contaminated by Hurricanes Florence and Michael to inform mitigation decisions at impacted areas in a time-sensitive manner.

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