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Superfund Research Program

May 27, 2016 New

PROTECT Hosts EPA Region 1 Administrator

EPA and Northeastern University Personnel
From left: Northeastern PROTECT Center Director Akram Alshawabkeh, Ph.D., with Spalding, PROTECT project leader Phil Brown, Ph.D., and EPA Section Chief Meghan Cassidy.

(Photo courtesy of Northeastern University)

On May 9, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding visited Northeastern University and presented a talk as part of the Northeastern Superfund Research Program's Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) "Collaboration for Innovation" webinar series. Spalding's talk focused on innovation and collaboration within the EPA Region 1 Superfund program, especially in regards to working with local governments and communities.

During his talk, Spalding highlighted contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). Recent science has suggested some CECs can be toxic to humans or the environment, but all the ways in which they may cause harm is often unclear. This lack of clarity can present challenges for engaging with communities, who are frustrated and looking for solutions, not uncertainties. CECs in New England include perfluorinated compounds, which have contaminated several areas in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Spalding finished the discussion with a question and answer period, during which he addressed some of the struggles pertaining to community engagement and regional cleanup. Prior to the presentation, Spalding met with Northeastern PROTECT Center researchers and core leaders for a discussion about regional and Superfund-related issues. For more information about the webinar and discussion, see the full story on the Northeastern PROTECT Center website.

April 14, 2016

Northeastern SRP Center Releases New Reproductive Health Bulletin for Health Care Professionals

The Northeastern University Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center, Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT), and the Northeastern Center for Research on Early Childhood Exposure and Development in Puerto Rico collaborated to produce a Reproductive Health and the Environment Bulletin, which presents up-to-date research about environmental exposures and preterm birth.

The bulletin focuses specifically on the body of evidence that shows how various chemicals may affect reproductive outcomes, including early-onset puberty, decreased fertility, and preterm births. It provides a comprehensive overview of research on health outcomes associated with exposure to pesticides, bisphenol A, perfluoroalkyl substances, phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, air pollution, lead, and polychlorinated biphenyls. In addition to the broad overview of chemicals and their health effects, the bulletin also outlines PROTECT’s findings to date, including a study on the associations between phenols and parabens with oxidative stress and inflammation that may cause adverse birth outcomes.

The bulletin also provides a list of resources and steps to take to avoid exposures. This includes a list of concrete steps health care professionals can take to educate patients and help prevent, diagnose, and treat health problems. See the Reproductive Health and the Environment Bulletin for more information.

April 12, 2016

Special Issue Highlights Invited Reviews from the Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health

Reviews on Environmental Health

A special issue of the journal Reviews on Environmental Health highlights the 16th International Conference of the Pacific Basin Consortium (PBC) for Environment and Health with invited reviews from conference presenters. This issue, which includes articles from Superfund Research Program (SRP) staff and grantees, contains reviews on issues related to the Pacific Basin, such as exposure to electronic waste, metals, and other hazardous wastes; water and ecosystem health; natural disasters and a changing environment; children’s health; and emerging issues in the region.

The NIEHS SRP was a sponsor of the PBC International Conference, held August 10 - 13, 2015, at the University of Indonesia. SRP staff and grantees were involved throughout the conference, which focused on the most pressing environment and health issues of our time, cooperative research, and innovative strategies for addressing these issues.

The issue includes an editorial by NIEHS SRP Director Bill Suk, Ph.D., on the history of the PBC, what it has helped accomplish, and new directions for the Consortium. In a review, Suk highlights models for reducing the burden of disease with changing exposures in a changing world. NIEHS SRP Health Scientist Administrator Michelle Heacock, Ph.D., was also featured with her review on the growing global problem of electronic waste and next steps for addressing this problem.

An article by Jeffrey Crosby, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer of Picoyune, an SRP-funded small business, highlighted lessons learned transferring a mercury sensor from the bench to the field. SRP supported the sensor’s initial development as part of the University of California (UC) Berkeley SRP Center. An article by Dartmouth SRP Center researcher Celia Chen, Ph.D., discusses connecting mercury science to policy through her work on uptake of mercury into seafood. A review by UC San Diego SRP Center researcher Keith Pezzoli, Ph.D., discusses creating healthy and just bioregions and rethinking strategies to improve public health, especially in disadvantaged communities where the cumulative impacts of toxicant exposure and other environmental and social stressors are most damaging.

To read more from the conference, see the Reviews on Environmental Health Special Edition.

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