Superfund Research Program
Workshop Takes Next Steps with Lancet Commission Report
Environmental health experts gathered March 1 - 2, 2018, in Seattle, Washington, to create a strategic framework for addressing global pollution using the 2017 Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health report. The workshop was convened by the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project's Pollution and Health Initiative.
Several current and previous Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantees attended the workshop, including Philippe Grandjean, Ph.D., from the University of Rhode Island SRP Center; Philip Landrigan, M.D., from the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Howard Hu, M.D., from the University of Toronto; and David Bellinger, Ph.D., from Harvard University. Landrigan, one of 40 international authors of the Lancet Commission report, discussed plans to establish a Global Pollution Observatory that will collect and curate data on pollution and pollution-related disease to share with the scientific community.
According to the report, 16 percent of all deaths worldwide can be directly linked to pollution, such as air pollution, lead, neurodevelopmental toxicants, and climate change. The economic costs associated with pollution were estimated at more than $4.6 trillion per year.
"We realized that it was important to document not only the health impacts of global pollution, but also the measurable costs of pollution as an economic burden," said SRP Director Bill Suk, Ph.D., an author on the report. "This is the first analysis to comprehensively report both aspects."
The GBD workshop and related efforts are exploring ways to enhance data collection, improve communication with decision-makers, and reduce pollution to decrease the burden of disease and associated economic costs around the world.
Iowa SRP Center Model Enables Accurate Air Pollutant Measurements
The University of Iowa Superfund Research Program (SRP) released a Web-based application to help researchers and regulators more accurately determine pollutant concentrations in air using passive air samplers. The application is designed to predict the sampling rates and volumes captured by passive air samplers equipped with polyurethane foam (PUF-PAS), which are frequently used to capture and measure airborne persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
The Web-based application helps users understand how much air went through a PUF-PAS sampler, which is needed to predict the airborne POP concentration. It uses a mathematical model based on user-entered deployment dates of the passive sampler and the compounds of interest. The model uses publicly available hourly meteorological data and the physical and chemical properties of the target compounds to predict the sampling rate and sampling volume for gas-phase compounds captured by the sampler. It can be used to accurately predict the sampling volume of passive air samplers deployed anywhere in the world.
This interface was developed based on research described in an Iowa SRP Center publication led by Keri Hornbuckle, Ph.D. In a 2017 Risk e-Learning webinar, Hornbuckle described this work, as well as other methods for accurate and reproducible measurements of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a type of POP, in air, water, soil, sediment, pore water, plant tissue, and human blood serum.
SRP Researchers Create Ultrastretchable Nano Barrier for Numerous Applications
Novel textured coatings made from graphene can act as ultrastretchable barriers to stop chemicals and other molecules from passing through, according to new research from the Brown University Superfund Research Program Center. The authors suggest these novel films could be used to create multifunctional fabrics and responsive devices, including personal monitoring equipment, wearable electronics, and soft robotics.
The research team used graphene nano-sheets that can change shape by folding and unfolding to mimic a more elastic behavior, which improves upon traditional approaches that create a material that is quite stiff and cracks easily. The stretchable technology also can function as a sensor to detect certain chemicals and to act as either an impassible or selective barrier. These characteristics will make the material useful for a variety of future cutting-edge applications.