Elyssa Gelmann, MPH '11
I spent the summer working at the Environmental Health Center in Cluj, Romania, under the guidance of two YSPH faculty members: Kathleen McCarty and Catherine Yeckel. My research focused on the effects of maternal arsenic exposure through drinking water. I worked in four rural communities located in western Romania, two of which have high levels of arsenic in drinking water and two which have low levels. With the help of a Romanian translator, I interviewed women who had given birth within the past 10 years and also took urine and drinking water samples from each subject. Half of the women had children with a low birth weight and half had children with a normal birth weight. The urine samples were analyzed to determine arsenic metabolite concentrations. Efficient metabolism of arsenic via methylation may protect an exposed individual against arsenic’s detrimental effects, such as low birth weight. I also spent time researching health care, reproductive health, environmental policy and arsenic exposure in Romania on a broader scale. Becoming familiar with the region was crucial to understanding my subjects’ lifestyles and exposures to other toxins that were of concern. It was a fascinating time to experience Romania and to interact with the people.
Elyssa Gelman - Romania
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- The view on a hike to Creasta Cocoşului (Crest of the Rooster) in Baia Mare, Romania.
- Sunflower fields are a common sight along the roads in Arad County. The seeds are used to make oil.
- The doctor’s dispensary in Pilu, one of my study sites.
- Wrapping up some paperwork after a set of subject interviews in the Pilu dispensary.
- Touring an automotive battery factory. Behind me is a furnace used to create the lead waffles that are used in the batteries.
- In my office at the Environmental Health Center with Julie Kunrath, also a Yale M.P.H. student.
- This community well in Varşand was one of my study sites. The sign reads “non-potable water,” but residents continue to use the well due to a lack of alternative sources.
- Irina Dumitrascu, Valerica Nadabau, and Julie Kunrath sample the community well in Varşand.
- A local girl in Pilu, one of my study sites, fills up jugs at a community well for her family.
- A local man in Păuliş one of my study sites, provides a water sample with the help of the local nurse.
- A valley fill created by the tailings from an old metals mine in Baia de Aries. The runoff from this valley pollutes the drinking water sources in the towns below.
- The entrance into the old Baia de Aries mine.
- The remains of a building used to process the ore in Baia de Aries.
- Horse carts piled high with hay were a common sight in Pilu and in other rural areas.
- Two men stop for a chat before filling their jugs at a community well in Şepreuş, one of my study sites.
- Many of my subjects brought their children along to the interviews. This girl is from the Roma (gypsy) community in Pilu.
- Mr. Horotan, the father of a Romanian friend from Yale, purchases sour cherries at the market in Baia Mare to make vişinata (a sour cherry liquor).
- Hanging out with Dracula in Sighişoara, the town where Vlad the Impaler was born in 1431.