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USU undergrads study immigrant children and environmental dangers

By Kyle Downey
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Two Utah State University undergraduate students are researching environmental dangers faced by the children of immigrant families in Utah for a national project that promotes research on children’s health.

Grant and Morgann Holyoak will be interviewing social service providers to determine whether or not the children of immigrant families face health risks that are specific to their situations. The research is being conducted under the direction of Courtney Flint, an associate professor of natural resource sociology at USU.

The Holyoaks’ work is part of the Break the Cycle project, a national effort to involve students in researching the health effects of environmental factors on children.

“We don’t know exactly what environmental health hazards these children face quite yet,” Grant Holyoak said. “The literature, however, suggests that they might be subjected to hazardous materials from their parents’ workplaces, like pesticides if their parents work in agriculture or factory-related chemicals if they work in manufacturing.”

In addition to environmental risks, they will by studying whether factors like gender affect the risks faced by these children in Utah.

In April, the Holyoaks will travel to Atlanta, where the Break the Cycle project will hold its annual conference. There, they will present their research, which will be published in June along with the work of other students who participated.

“It’s a great way for students to frame broad issues through hands-on work,” Flint said.

-mdl