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Your Environment. Your Health.

August 2017

Superfund Research Program Science Digest
Balancing Scientific Excellence with Research Relevance

Hot Off the Press

The SRP regularly highlights basic and applied research and activities from the program, spanning multiple disciplines.

Research Briefs

Bone Marrow

Adipocytes in the bone marrow of TBT-treated mice
(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Schlezinger)

TBT Alters Bone Marrow Microenvironment and Suppresses Important Immune Cells
Researchers at the Boston University Superfund Research Program (BU SRP) Center reported that tributyltin (TBT) may promote aging-related problems in immune health. The team, led by Jennifer Schlezinger, Ph.D., found that TBT impacts bone marrow B cells directly by triggering cell death and indirectly by changing the microenvironment of bone marrow vital for supporting immune health.

New 3D Fish Liver Model for Aquatic Toxicology
Researchers at the Brown University SRP Center have developed a new 3D liver cell model that can be used to screen chemicals for toxicity in fish. The new model uses fish liver cells cultured to form 3D microtissue, so researchers can assess liver toxicants over time and after single and repeated exposures. According to the authors, the fish-specific testing platform is an alternative to expensive, time-consuming, whole animal assays and is suitable for screening the potential adverse effects of environmental pollutant mixtures and newly identified contaminants.

Prenatal PCE Exposure and Maternal Alcohol Use Linked to Increased Risks of Teenage Drug Use
Prenatal exposure to both alcohol and tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene or PCE, may increase the risk of using multiple illicit drugs as a teenager, according to a study by Boston University SRP Center researchers. PCE is a solvent frequently used in dry cleaning solutions, adhesives, metal degreasers, and other commercial products.

To subscribe to the monthly SRP Research Brief, visit the NIH Subscriber's Corner.

Environmental Factor Articles

Celia Chen and Laurie Rardin

Celia Chen, Ph.D., left, and Laurie Rardin worked together on the "Arsenic and You" website, which will help people reduce their levels of arsenic exposure.
(Photo courtesy of Jed Rardin)

Arsenic Website Helps Identify Sources and Reduce Exposures
A new user-friendly website provides a wealth of information on how people are exposed to arsenic and steps they can take to reduce exposures. The Dartmouth College SRP Center developed the Arsenic and You website to inform the public and answer questions about arsenic in water, food, and other sources.

Paper of the Month: Airborne PCBs in Urban and Rural U.S. Schools
An SRP study showed that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are present in older schools and that the likely source is outdated building materials, including window caulking and light ballasts. Though none of the schools had PCB levels high enough to meet federal standards for immediate remediation, researchers found that exposure of school-aged children to PCBs by inhalation may be equal to or higher than exposure through diet.

Exceptional Superfund Trainees Receive K.C. Donnelly Externship Awards
Eight promising NIEHS-funded SRP trainees received 2017 K.C. Donnelly Externship Award Supplements to enrich their research by working at another institution. This award honors the legacy of longtime SRP grantee and environmental health researcher Kirby (K.C.) Donnelly, Ph.D.

Persistent Chemicals in the Spotlight at June SRP Events
The SRP hosted two events in June regarding community needs related to perfluorinated chemicals in drinking water and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in air. Communities around the country are dealing with contamination and threats to human health from these chemicals.

Using Cutting-Edge Epigenetic Research to Inform Decision Making
Data from epigenetic research can be incorporated into the risk assessment process and used to inform regulatory decisions, according to Rebecca Fry, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Fry presented her research on inorganic arsenic as a case study during the May 4 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Cutting-Edge Speaker Series in Research Triangle Park. Fry directs the UNC SRP Center and has been exploring the health impacts of metals for almost two decades.

Risk e-Learning Webinars

In June, the SRP concluded its spring Risk e-Learning webinar series featuring groundbreaking analytical tools and methods developed and used by SRP grantees. The series attracted 1,209 live participants, 6,543 online archive views, 1,419 audio podcast downloads, and 14,596 video podcast downloads.

In the first session, Field-Ready Biosensors to Assess Bioavailability and Toxicity, Michael Unger, Ph.D., from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, April Gu, Ph.D., from the Northeastern University SRP Center, and Natalia Vasylieva, Ph.D., and Bogdan Barnych, Ph.D., from the University of California, Davis SRP Center described their tools to improve human and environmental monitoring.

In the second session, Techniques for Trace Analysis of Metals and Chemical Mixtures, Bruce Buchholz, Ph.D., from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Tracy Punshon, Ph.D., from the Dartmouth College SRP Center, and Lee Ferguson, Ph.D., from the Duke University SRP Center highlighted practical techniques to measure trace levels of potentially harmful materials and mixtures.

In the final session, Fate and Transport of Contaminants, Keri Hornbuckle, Ph.D., from the University of Iowa SRP Center, Jennifer Guelfo, Ph.D., from the Brown University SRP Center, and Mark Brusseau, Ph.D., from the University of Arizona SRP Center discussed tools and methods to detect contaminants and measure their fate and transport in the environment.

More details and archives of each session are available on the SRP Risk e-Learning series page. Risk e-Learning webinars are conducted by the SRP in collaboration with the EPA's Office of Land and Emergency Management.