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Superfund Research Program

June 27, 2014

Elizabeth River Gets Clean-up Help from VIMS SRP

Mike Unger, Ph.D
Unger measures PAH concentrations in water, sediment, and oysters in the Elizabeth River.
(Photo courtesy of Mike Unger)

Data from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science Superfund Research Program (VIMS SRP) will help guide the detailed design of a remediation project for a portion of the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake, Virginia. In early June, VIMS SRP grantees met with some of the leading U.S. remediation design engineers to review field data. During the meeting, the VIMS SRP grantees led by Mike Unger, Ph.D., provided the design engineers with data from SRP research on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations in the Elizabeth River.

The VIMS SRP project is developing a sensor that measures PAH concentrations in water to predict how PAHs accumulate in oysters from contaminated sediments. During field studies, they documented PAH concentrations in sediment, water, and oysters at various sites in the Elizabeth River.

Data from the project is proving useful for evaluating the success of previous remediation efforts in the Elizabeth River, and is now being used to target specific areas for future remediation work. The researchers plan to continue discussions with the remediation designers over the next few weeks to finalize summer sampling sites that best fit their research objectives and to also provide additional data to help guide the future remediation plans.

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June 27, 2014

Duke SRP Scientists Attend Furniture Flammability and Human Health Summit

Duke SRP Scientists
Thorsos (left) and Stapleton (right) at the summit.
(Photo courtesy of Duke SRP)

Duke University Superfund Research Program (Duke SRP) grantees Heather Stapleton, Ph.D., and Eileen Thorsos attended the 2014 Furniture Flammability and Human Health Summit in Atlanta, the second such conference about flame retardants, furniture, and human safety.

The use of one flame-retardant mixture, known as PentaBDE (PBDE), was phased out in 2004, due to concerns about its tendency to build up in human tissues and lead to potential human health effects, including thyroid disruption and memory and learning problems. Many other chemicals, including mixtures such as Firemaster 550 , are currently used to meet flammability requirements, but relatively little information is available on how they affect people’s health.”

To help fill some information gaps, conference organizers brought together environmental chemists and toxicologists, flame retardant manufacturers, fire safety researchers, environmental health advocates, firefighters, flammability standards developers, and leaders from along the furniture manufacturing supply chain.

Stapleton is a researcher seeking answers. She’s conducting a variety of studies on exposure to flame retardant mixtures, which are released from furniture and other household items. (For more on Stapleton’s research, see the April Issue of the NIEHS Environmental Factor).

“There is a lot of misinformation out there about flammability standards and chemicals used in household products,” said Stapleton. “Some furniture manufacturers don’t even know what is in their foam, because the mixtures are proprietary. We are continuing to measure foam samples from household products to track human exposure and inform about health risk.”

For more about the summit, visit the Duke SRP Blog .

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June 03, 2014

More Field Testing Funded for Water Clean-Up Research

Airlift Environmental SBIR Project Leader Mark Christenson, Ph.D.
Airlift Environmental SBIR Project Leader Mark Christenson, Ph.D., preps paraffin-based candles for lowering down a borehole at another location in Nebraska, the Cozad landfill site.
(Photo courtesy of Mark Christenson, Airlift Environmental)
NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantee Airlift Environmental, LLC recently received a Nebraska Economic Development award to supplement its SRP Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant. These additional funds will allow the business to expand the number of sites where it will conduct field-scale demonstrations and test its products for improving the treatment of contaminated water.

Airlift, along with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, developed two types of oxidant-paraffin cylinders, called candles, to remove chlorinated solvents and petroleum products from contaminated aquifers. The candles are about 3 feet long made with paraffin and other materials that slowly dissolve in water. The candles are lowered below the surface to reach contaminated groundwater where they slowly dissolve, releasing the materials that can capture the contaminants over time. This new technique reduces the need for expensive equipment and is specifically designed to provide a cost-effective and efficient technology to clean public water supplies that contain chlorinated solvents and petroleum products.

The first demonstration of the technology is in progress at a former Solvent Site in Grand Island, Nebraska, where groundwater is contaminated with high levels of vinyl chloride, a human carcinogen. Scientists from Airlift and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have installed six monitoring wells and are currently putting the Airlift products in the ground and collecting data to see if the products are working effectively in the field. For more on the project, visit the SRP project summary.

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