outreach and engagement

OSU study suggests reducing air-polluting PAHs may lower levels of lung cancer deaths

CORVALLIS, Ore. – High emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be linked to lung cancer deaths in the United States and countries with a similarly high socioeconomic rank, including Canada, Australia, France, and Germany, according to a study by Oregon State University.

Researchers reviewed a range of information from 136 countries, including average body mass index, gross domestic product per capita, the price of cigarettes, smoking rates, and the amount of PAHs emitted into the air. PAHs are a group of more than 100 chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic when inhaled or ingested. They most commonly come from vehicle exhaust and burning coal and wood.

OSU researchers calculated how measures of health, wealth and pollution related to lung cancer deaths in each country.

"Analyzing data on a global scale revealed relationships between PAH emissions and smoking rates on the lung cancer death rates in each country," said Staci Simonich, a co-author of the study and toxicologist at OSU. "Ultimately, the strength of the relationships was determined by the country’s socioeconomic status."

While the link between smoking and lung cancer is well-established, OSU researchers did not find a correlation between cigarette smoking rates and lung cancer death rates in countries with high levels of income. Researchers attribute this conclusion to previous studies showing high-income smokers tend to light up less often.

OSU's study also suggests that reducing smoking rates could significantly lessen lung cancer deaths in countries with a lower socioeconomic status, including North Korea, Nepal, Mongolia, Cambodia, Bangladesh and many others. Researchers found that lung cancer mortality rates in these countries negatively correlated with price – meaning cheaper cigarettes are often associated with higher levels of deaths from lung cancer.

Detectable lung cancer can take 20 years to develop, and the poorest countries in the study had an average age of death of 54. OSU researchers suggest heavy smokers in these countries can sometimes die before tumors attributable to lung cancer become apparent.

"If the life expectancies were the same in all of the countries we reviewed, it's possible we would see a consistent relationship between PAH emissions and lung cancer," said Simonich, an OSU professor of environmental and molecular toxicology.

The study, "Association of Carcinogenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Emissions and Smoking with Lung Cancer Mortality Rates on a Global Scale," was recently published in the journal Environmental Science and Toxicology.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratories in Richland, Wash. assisted with calculating the statistical associations between data used in the study. The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences funded the research through OSU’s Superfund Research Program.

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide. Lung cancer accounts for 12 percent of all cancer diagnoses and is the leading cancer killer of men and second among women, according to the American Cancer Society.

Note to Editors: To request a copy of the study, please email Daniel Robison at daniel.robison@oregonstate.edu.


Staci Simonich, 541-737-9194

Outreach and Engagement

About OSU Outreach and Engagement: The Division of University Outreach and Engagement connects Oregon State University, the state’s only land-grant university, to the rest of the world by making its educational programs accessible wherever and whenever people need to learn. The division encompasses OSU Extended Campus, OSU Extension Service and OSU Professional and Continuing Education.

“Recycling 101”to help Oregonians learn basics of recycling, save money

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregonians who want to positively impact their community’s environment can now enroll in Recycling 101, an innovative, noncredit, online recycling education course.

Oregon State University will offer Recycling 101 through its Professional and Noncredit Education program, drawing on research-based best practices, case studies and multimedia to explore the life cycle of recyclables, hazardous waste and compostables. The interactive course is self-paced and allows participants to connect with leaders in community waste reduction efforts.

Participants will learn how to reduce waste in their home and workplace, and the course will also profile small local businesses that have applied recycling best practices and significantly reduced costs and environmental impact.

There is a $75 fee for individuals to take the course, and people in groups of five or more can pay $50 each.

Recycling 101 is modeled after the successful Master Recycler program, found in eight Oregon communities. About 2,500 Oregonians have completed that program and later contributed more than 42,000 hours of volunteer outreach in their communities.

Dozens of private, nonprofit and governmental organizations throughout Oregon contributed financial and curriculum support to develop Recycling 101. Registration is now open, and the course begins in January.


Gail Cole, 541-737-9737

Carnegie Foundation bestows coveted ‘Community Engagement’ designation on OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s deep collaboration with the communities it serves beyond the borders of its campuses has been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching with its “Community Engagement” designation – a classification earned this year by only 114 other universities nationwide, the Foundation announced today.

A total of 311 institutions out of more than 3,000 colleges and universities nationwide now hold the Community Engagement classification, a status earned through a voluntary participation process by the campuses that have sought it. OSU is already the only Oregon university and one of only three in the Pacific Northwest to hold the top Carnegie designation for research universities, a classification based on analysis of existing national data sources. The new “elective” designation, only owned elsewhere in Oregon by Portland State University, involves “additional data collection and documentation, with substantial effort invested by participating institutions,” according to the Foundation.

“Your application documented excellent alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement, and you were able to respond to the classification framework with both descriptions and examples of exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement,” wrote Carnegie Foundation President Anthony S. Bryk in a notification letter to OSU.

OSU has long been recognized for exceptional community outreach throughout Oregon via programs such as the Agricultural Experiment Station, the Extension Service and the Forest Research Laboratory, as well as such efforts as OSU Extended Campus (“Ecampus”) and myriad programs that serve K-12 students. For instance, OSU connects with one out of every five school-age children in Oregon each year through its 4H program, which has long since expanded beyond the stereotype of “kids and cows at county fairs.” Now, 4H is just as likely to be providing computer instruction to urban students or a soccer league for children of migrant farm workers.  

“OSU’s land grant mission perhaps comes to life most tangibly in the outreach and engagement work taking place around our university, and this new designation formally recognizes the power and impact of those wonderfully diverse and wide-ranging activities,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “We take very seriously our historic responsibility to provide high quality education to the people of this state. I’m grateful to the Carnegie Foundation for recognizing our commitment in this way.”

Much of the work recognized in the designation takes place through the OSU Division of Outreach and Engagement, led by Vice Provost Scott Reed, who also directs the OSU Extension Service. The division expects to expand OSU’s community engagement efforts further, with ambitious goals in educational access, partnerships, scholarship that both serves and is informed by outreach activities and more.

“The Carnegie designation recognizes the mutually beneficial work we’re involved in and the reciprocity between the university and the communities we serve,” said Reed. “The opportunities to further enhance that work are rich and extensive, and we will build on this new classification with deeper work that sets an even stronger standard for what is possible when universities and communities collaborate.”


Scott Reed, 541-737-2713