Superfund Research Program
SRP PFAS Research Highlighted at Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable
Superfund Research Program (SRP)-funded research related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) was highlighted at the November 7 Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable (FRTR) meeting in Reston, Virginia. The goal of the meeting was to identify and discuss current technologies and the emerging science behind PFAS characterization and cleanup.
SRP Health Scientist Administrator Heather Henry, Ph.D., participated in a panel discussion about the research gaps and next steps for characterizing and cleaning up PFAS. Henry discussed the wide-ranging research that SRP-funded researchers are doing related to PFAS.
For example, she highlighted the new University of Rhode Island SRP Center, led by Rainer Lohmann, Ph.D., which is focused on understanding the sources, exposure, and health effects of PFAS. Henry described their novel passive sampling tools to detect and quantify PFAS in the air and water, as well as their efforts to understand the fate and transport of PFAS in the environment.
"The FRTR meeting was a great opportunity to share the important work SRP-funded researchers are doing related to PFAS," noted Henry. "In fact, many of the presentations by our federal partner agencies cited work from our grantees, reinforcing the good work they are doing in this emerging area."
Other highlighted SRP-funded research included:
- Research by David Sedlak, Ph.D., and Lisa Alvarez-Cohen, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley SRP Center on the biotransformation of PFAS.
- Novel energy-efficient nanoreactors developed by Stephen Boyd, Ph.D., of the Michigan State University SRP Center that break the carbon-fluorine bond to de-fluorinate PFAS compounds.
- Cutting-edge cleanup technologies developed by SRP-funded small businesses EnChem Engineering Inc., CycloPure Inc., and Lynntech Inc.
- Human health and exposure research led by the University of Rhode Island and Brown University SRP Centers.
Sue Fenton, Ph.D., from the National Toxicology Program also attended the meeting and gave a presentation about the evaluation of the potential health effects of PFAS.
SRP Researchers and Trainees Travel to China for IEBMC Meeting
Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantees were well represented at the sixth annual International Experimental Biology and Medicine Conference (IEBMC), held October 19 – 21 in Chengdu, China. Co-sponsored by SRP, the 2018 IEBMC focused on environmental health and medicine.
IEBMC brings together international partners to advance experimental biology and medicine and facilitates conversation between established career scientists, policy officials, and trainees. Invited lecturers included current SRP grantees Stephania Cormier, Ph.D., from the Louisiana State University SRP Center and Robert Tanguay, Ph.D., of the Oregon State University SRP Center. Former SRP grantees Kenneth Ramos, Ph.D., of the University of Arizona and Alvaro Puga, Ph.D., of the University of Cincinnati were also invited lecturers.
Participants shared and discussed the latest research on air pollution and human health, assessing the toxicity of hazardous contaminants, precision medicine, emerging technologies, and bioinformatics.
SRP Health Scientist Administrator Danielle Carlin, Ph.D., gave an invited talk focused on using atherosclerosis as a case study to understand the joint action of environmental chemical and nonchemical stressors.
Soil Conference Explores Connection Between Soil Microbes and Human Health
Nearly 200 scientists and organization leaders from diverse backgrounds came together at the recent Conference on Connections Between Soil Health and Human Health, held October 16 – 17 in Silver Spring, Maryland. Coordinated by the Soil Health Institute, the working meeting aimed to provide a roadmap for exploring the connections between soil microbe ecosystems, soil health, food production, nutrition, and human health.
Superfund Research Program (SRP) Health Scientist Administrator Heather Henry, Ph.D., participated in a panel discussion about funding opportunities for research linking soil health and human health.
"SRP's transdisciplinary research approaches serve as an excellent model for addressing the complex research questions identified at the meeting," noted Henry. "Several of our grantees are leaders in understanding the connections between human health as a function of soil-plant-contaminant interactions – both in terms of research and community engagement."
Henry described several relevant SRP-funded research projects, including studies about mechanisms to limit arsenic uptake in rice, minimizing contaminant uptake in urban gardens, understanding exposure pathways through contaminated soil, and the impact of biota (plants, fungi, or bacteria, for example) on reducing contamination.
Other attendees included representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and scientists with expertise in soil health, food quality and food security, human health, bioavailability, land management, toxicology, and soil cleanup. The workshop leveraged the multidisciplinary expertise of participants to develop ten recommended research priorities. These priorities include understanding how microbiome structure and function relate to human and soil health; integrating existing human health and soil health data; and enhancing communication strategies between health, agricultural, and environmental sectors.