Environmental PCB redistribution and community exposure after Hurricane Maria

NIEHS Grant: R21ES029765

Naresh Kumar, Ph.D.

Researchers from the University of Miami are examining changes in polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposure in Puerto Rican communities following Hurricane Maria. After the hurricane hit, communities became more reliant on Guánica Bay, which has high PCB levels, for seafood and drinking water. Storm surge and high winds also redistributed PCB-laden sediment and may have increased PCB concentrations in water and fish. Researchers are collecting and testing air, fish, and sediment samples for PCBs. They are also conducting a community survey to assess how the hurricane impacted community infrastructure and reliance on contaminated-water sources for food. Investigators will also assess changes in behavior that may lead to higher human exposures. Study results will be used to develop community-centered preventive measures to manage PCB exposure in Puerto Rican communities.