Superfund Research Program
UW SRP Co-Hosts Workshop on the Duwamish River Superfund Cleanup Proposal
The University of Washington (UW) Superfund Research Program (SRP) and the Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health (CEEH) filled the Allen Library Research Commons at UW with approximately 70 attendees for an educational workshop on EPA's Duwamish River Superfund Cleanup Proposal .
The meeting held April 29 included UW students and staff, a Duwamish tribal member, staff from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington State Department of Ecology, the City of Seattle (representing the Lower Duwamish Waterway LDW Group ), and the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/Technical Advisory Group .
Representatives from each group presented their perspectives on the EPA plans for cleanup of the Duwamish River. All participants were also encouraged to make a public comment by June 13. The comment period is the only chance for the public to speak up and influence the EPA’s Cleanup Plan.
In 2001, a 5.5 mile long stretch of the lower Duwamish River was declared a federal Superfund Site. According to the EPA Proposed Plan , more than 40 different toxicants contaminate the river, mostly in the river bottom sediment. The contaminants of highest concern are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and furans, carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and arsenic.
For more information about the workshop and the Duwamish Cleanup Proposal, visit the Ecogenetix website .
Dartmouth SRP Participates in Water Festival
More than 350 fourth grade students from Concord, N.H. elementary schools learned about potential arsenic contamination in drinking water thanks to the Dartmouth College Superfund Research Program (SRP) Community Engagement Core (CEC) and Research Translation Core (RTC), who built a display and interactive exhibit for the New Hampshire (NH) Department of Environmental Services Water Festival.
At Dartmouth’s booth, RTC Coordinator Laurie Rardin and CEC Coordinator Michael Paul explained to the children that according to the N.H. Department of Environmental Services , arsenic in New Hampshire occurs naturally in the bedrock and can be released into drinking water from private wells drilled into bedrock fractures. The students participated in interactive activities to show them how water doesn’t smell or look differently when contaminated with arsenic, but can still increase the risk of several types of cancer and create health problems such as neurological disorders when a person is exposed.
The Festival was held May 8 in honor of Drinking Water Awareness Week. At the event, students learned about water conservation, water testing, groundwater pollution and keeping water clean. The fourth graders could also participate in a water science fair.
To learn more about Dartmouth’s efforts to explain the risks associated with exposure to arsenic in private well water, visit the Dartmouth SRP website .
Maier Recognized as Leading Edge Researcher
University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) Center Director Raina Maier, Ph.D., received a UA at the Leading Edge Recognition award for her work on the discovery and environmental applications of biosurfactants. She received the award at the 10th Annual Innovation Day on March 8, 2013, at UA, which celebrates technology development by highlighting innovative research achievements of students, faculty, and staff. The awards are designed to showcase emerging and important technologies likely to be commercialized in the future.
Through her foundational work on biosurfactant-metal interactions, funded by NIEHS through the UA SRP, Maier has discovered that rhamnolipid biosurfactants strongly and selectively bind to toxic metals and that rhamnolipids are effective in controlling zoosporic plant pathogens. The latter discovery is the subject of a licensed patent and a marketed product called Zonix BioFungicide. Maier envisions biosurfactants as green replacements for more toxic and less biodegradable synthetic surfactants currently on the market.
Visit Maier’s website to learn more about her biosurfactant research.
Superfund Research Highlighted in Nature Paper
An international collaboration led by Julian Schroeder, Ph.D., professor of biology and SRP grantee at the University of California (UC) – San Diego, has discovered important properties of plant transport proteins that, collectively, could have a profound effect on global agriculture.
One of Schroeder’s research advances led to the discovery of a sodium transporter that plays a key role in protecting plants from salt stress, which causes major crop losses in irrigated fields. The work of Dartmouth College SRP grantee Mary Lou Guerinot, Ph.D., also a collaborator, contributes to an understanding of how plants absorb and distribute metals, such as iron and arsenic.
In an article published May 2 in Nature , Schroeder and Guerinot along with 10 other scientists from Australia, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the U.S., describe how their discoveries could jointly be used to enhance sustainable food and fuel production.
The new discoveries of the 12 scientists clarify the way that plants transport important substances across their biological membranes to resist toxic metals and pests, increase salt and drought tolerance, control water loss, and store sugar can have profound implications for increasing the supply of food and energy for our rapidly growing global population.
“More fundamental knowledge and basic discovery research is needed and would enable us to further and fully exploit these advances and pursue new promising avenues of plant improvement in light of food and energy demands and the need for sustainable yield gains,” said Schroeder.
A press release about the collaborative paper is available through the UC San Diego website.
OSU Hosts Oregon Congressional Representative
On April 19, Oregon 1st District Congressional Representative Suzanne Bonamici visited Oregon State University (OSU) to learn more about its Superfund Research Program (SRP) research.
OSU SRP project leader Robert Tanguay, Ph.D., gave Bonamici and two of her staff a tour of the Sinnhuber Aquatic Resource Laboratory (SARL) zebrafish facility. At SARL, OSU SRP scientists evaluate biological interactions and responses to environmental chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and nanoparticles using rapid throughput approaches. Researchers then seek to understand the mechanisms by which these exposures produce biological responses, with an emphasis on mechanisms of developmental toxicity.
Dave Williams, Ph.D., OSU SRP Program Director, also attended the tour and discussed the national NIEHS SRP program as a whole with Bonamici.
“Bonamici was interested in learning more about the Oregon State University Superfund Center partially because we have a focus on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and the Portland Harbor Superfund site,” said Tanguay. “She was fascinated to learn how we use innovative high throughput approaches in zebrafish to begin to understand all of the chemicals in the environment. She was also particularly interested in how we translate our basic science data to the public and to policy makers.”
For more information about Tanguay’s research and the SARL facility, visit the OSU SRP website
UK Research Award Recognizes Bhattacharyya
Congratulations to University of Kentucky (UK) Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantee Dibakar Bhattacharyya, Ph.D., who is one of seven winners of the inaugural UK Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research. He was honored at the Faculty Awards Reception April 22, 2013 at the UK College of Engineering. The award recognizes and rewards outstanding research accomplishments of lasting impact on engineering and computer science at UK.
A Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Bhattacharyya is the Alumni Professor of Chemical Engineering and co-founder of the Center for Membrane Sciences at UK, where he produces outstanding, internationally recognized research achievements.
In recent work, Bhattacharyya extended his fundamental membrane research to develop new functionalized membranes and nanostructured materials for enzyme catalysis, ultra-high capacity metal capture, and other environmental and bio-based applications. Bhattacharyya has also been a pioneer in the application of green synthesis techniques for membrane functionalization, leading to new membrane supports for a range of water remediation applications.
For more information about the award and Bhattacharyya’s accomplishments, visit the UK College of Engineering website .