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Your Environment. Your Health.

Analytical Advances

Superfund Research Program

The SRP was created as a multidisciplinary research program to address the broad, complex health and environmental issues that arise from the multimedia nature of hazardous waste sites. In meeting these objectives, SRP-funded research has led to analytical advances that have been used in risk assessments and to improve the understanding of toxicity and disease etiology. For example:

  • Bioassay for Dioxin and Dioxin-like Chemicals : SRP-funded researchers have developed, validated, and patented a cell bioassay system (CALUX®) for dioxins and dioxin-like chemicals in a wide variety of matrices that is sensitive, specific, quick, and inexpensive.
  • Development and Application of the "Gellyfish" : Dr. James Shine at the Harvard School of Public Health SRP has developed and tested the "Gellyfish" - a passive sampling device that can simultaneously determine the free metal ion concentration of multiple metals. This will greatly enhance our ability to estimate the potential fate and effects of heavy metals in the environment, allowing for assessment of their bioavailability and subsequent risks to human health.
  • Integrating Approaches to Predict How Contaminants Move in the Environment : Researchers funded by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) at the University of Arizona (UA) study how hazardous materials move in the environment. By combining mathematical models with laboratory and field studies, the team can better understand factors that cause contaminant cleanup to stall and identify cost-effective solutions to better protect human health.
  • Key Characteristics Inform Risk Assessment : NIEHS-funded University of California, Berkeley Superfund Research Program Center (UC Berkeley SRP Center) researchers and collaborators developed a new approach to help risk assessors predict the toxicity of chemicals based on shared characteristics. The approach allows for identification of the events, or key characteristics, that are shared by chemicals with similar toxic effects.
  • Superfund Researchers Propose Exposome Paradigm: University of California-Berkeley SRP researchers Stephen Rappaport, Ph.D., and Martyn Smith, Ph.D., offer a fundamental proposal for changing the way epidemiologists measure environmental exposure.
  • Zebrafish developmental assays test the safety of new chemicals: A group of molecules developed to break down pollutants in water is one step closer to commercial use, thanks to developmental tests led by Robert Tanguay, Ph.D., of the Oregon State University (OSU) Superfund Research Program. Tanguay's study, using developing zebrafish embryos, showed that the molecules designed to remove hazardous substances from water, called TAML activators, are not harmful themselves.
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