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Your Environment. Your Health.

2020 News

Superfund Research Program

SRP Centers Expand Scope to Address COVID-19 Research Needs
December 09, 2020
The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) provided supplemental funding to four centers to expand the focus of their research to address critical knowledge gaps related to exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its disease, COVID-19. In response to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, this funding encourages SRP researchers to address the public health crisis and its disparate effects on vulnerable populations.
Photograph of Mike Aitken
Remembering Mike Aitken, Esteemed SRP Scholar and Mentor
October 09, 2020
Michael (Mike) Aitken, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, passed away September 19 after a long, courageous battle with cancer. Aitken served as a project leader and integral part of the UNC Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center for more than 20 years.
Graph used to inform households of potential elevated arsenic levels in their neighborhood wells
SRP Studies Highlight Strategies to Improve Well Testing for Arsenic and Document Benefits
October 09, 2020
In a pair of recent publications, researchers from the Columbia University SRP Center demonstrated a strategy to improve private well testing for arsenic. They also showed that water treatment systems effectively reduced arsenic water levels and may reduce the likelihood of developing cancer.
Angela Slitt, Ph.D.
SRP Grantees Part of the Conversation on PFAS
September 03, 2020
A new virtual seminar series is providing an opportunity for researchers to share information on per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The first session of the series, which kicked off on July 31 and included more than 400 participants, featured Angela Slitt, Ph.D., of the NIEHS-funded University of Rhode Island Superfund Research Program Center.
altered tubular networks in endothelial cells compared to control
New Approach Links Cell Studies to Human Health
September 03, 2020
A new NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP)-funded study demonstrated a strategy using data from cell studies to characterize how exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may harm human health, particularly the cardiovascular system. PCBs are a large and complex group of chemicals that often occur in mixtures and can contaminate soil, groundwater, and air.
Dragonfly in specimen jar
Dragonflies Provide Insight into Mercury Pollution Across U.S. National Parks
August 13, 2020
A researcher from the NIEHS-funded Dartmouth College Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center contributed to the first-ever survey of mercury pollution in the U.S. National Park System. The study, built on nearly a decade of research across the country, found that immature dragonfly larvae can be used to estimate the amount of mercury that is present in local fish, amphibians, and birds.
Metals Epigenetics Symposium poster
Symposium Brings Together Metals and Epigenetics Experts
July 21, 2020
In a virtual symposium, NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantees and colleagues shared research findings and discussed leveraging data to learn how metal exposures can lead to epigenetic changes. Exposure to chemicals can affect health by altering the epigenome, which is made up of compounds and proteins that can turn genes on or off without changing the underlying sequence of DNA. Several metals, including arsenic and mercury, are known to alter the epigenome, but the different ways in which metals can do this is not well understood.
Location of the Superfund site on the Lower Duwamish River.
Videos Offer Advice for Safe Fishing Along Polluted River
July 02, 2020
A new nine-part, multilingual video series delivers critical fish consumption information to Seattle communities who fish the contaminated Duwamish River for food, recreation, and cultural reasons. The video series covers a range of topics, including an introduction to salmon fishing, how much salmon is safe to eat, and how to prepare and cook various salmon dishes. To meet the needs of the area’s culturally diverse fishing community, they are available in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Khmer, the official language of Cambodia.
Dora Taggart
Moving Monitoring Tools from the Lab to the Marketplace
June 08, 2020
NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) small business grantee Microbial Insights is taking the next steps to commercialize its tools that monitor the break down of environmental contaminants. The company was one of 23 small businesses selected to participate in the 2020 Innovation Corps (I-Corps) at NIH, an eight-week intensive program that teaches researchers how to accelerate commercialization of their products. 
REsearchers working in the River Road Testing Lab.
SRP Centers Combat COVID-19
June 01, 2020
NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) Centers across the country are contributing their expertise to respond to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. From increasing testing capacity and improving personal protective equipment to creating online tools and outreach materials, SRP researchers are fighting COVID-19 from the local to the global level.
Artist rendering of figures progressing from childhood to adulthood
SRP Contributes to Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource, Grantees Eligible to Use Resource
May 15, 2020
The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) contributed to the Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource (HHEAR) initiative, which provides NIH-funded researchers access to centralized, high-quality exposure assessment services. All SRP grantees are eligible to use this resource to analyze samples. The next round of applications are due June 26 and August 28, 2020.
U.S. maps showing locations of returning certers at Louisiana State University, University of Kentucky, University of Arizona, Oregon State University, University of Iowa, and Northeastern University, as wel as University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Harvard University, Baylor College of MEdicine, North CArolina State University, and University of Alabama at Birmingham.
SRP Welcomes New and Returning Multiproject Centers
April 24, 2020
The Superfund Research Program (SRP) welcomes 11 new and returning multiproject Centers. SRP Centers consist of several projects and cores, designed to address research questions that contribute to the Center's overall research focus. These NIEHS-funded grants are the mainstay of the program, where transdisciplinary teams of scientists and engineers working in different fields tackle complex but targeted problems in environmental health.
John Meeker, Sc.D
Linking Environmental Chemicals and Preterm Birth in Puerto Rico
April 09, 2020
Two new studies from Northeastern University's Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center, Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT), found links between poor birth outcomes and exposure to environmental chemicals, including metals and flame retardants. Led by John Meeker, Sc.D., and funded by NIEHS, both studies leverage the Center's PROTECT birth cohort to explore the environmental factors that contribute to preterm birth in Puerto Rico, which has one of the highest preterm birth rates in the world.
Andrew Cooper, Ph.D., collects plant tissues from a fruit tree in the community garden.
Plant Testing Informs Safe Community Gardening Practices
March 20, 2020
In a new NIEHS-funded study, Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center researchers revealed elevated levels of heavy metals and arsenic in a local community garden grown on a Brownfields site. By installing raised garden beds on the site, they found that they could grow fruits and vegetables that did not accumulate contaminants.
New Tool Combines Exposure Data to Identify Vulnerable Communities
March 12, 2020
A new online tool combines environmental and health data to identify communities vulnerable to negative effects of environmental exposures and other stressors in the Houston region. The tool, developed by the Texas A&M Superfund Research Program Center in close partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund, helps communities understand how environmental factors like flooding and air pollution can affect their health.
Dibakar Bhattacharyya and Lindell Ormsbee
New Membrane Technologies Clean Up Contaminated Water
February 28, 2020
In two recent studies, researchers at the University of Kentucky SRP Center demonstrated that they can effectively remove contaminants, including trichloroethylene (TCE) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), from water using specialized membranes. Led by Dibakar Bhattacharyya, Ph.D., the research team developed functional membranes that can both trap and degrade contaminants.
Philippe Grandjean
Early-Life PFAS Exposure May Affect Childhood Metabolism
January 28, 2020
Exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) during prenatal and early childhood periods could alter metabolic hormones in children, according to a study from the University of Rhode Island Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center. The researchers found that with increased early-life exposure to PFAS, adipokine hormone levels during childhood decreased. Adipokines are a family of hormones thought to play a key role in energy metabolism.
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