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Your Environment. Your Health.

June 2019 Superfund Research Program Science Digest

Superfund Research Program Science Digest
Balancing Scientific Excellence with Research Relevance

Hot Off the Press

The Superfund Research Program (SRP) regularly highlights basic and applied research and activities from the program that span multiple disciplines.

Research Briefs

New Method Quickly Screens Chemicals for Cancer Risk

Boston University (BU) researchers, in collaboration with researchers at the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the Broad Institute, have developed and evaluated a new approach to assess whether exposure to a chemical increases a person’s long-term cancer risk. The fast, cost-effective method uses gene expression profiling, which measures the activity of a thousand or more genes to capture what is happening in a cell.

Uwimana and Lehmler

Eric Uwimana, Ph.D., left, and Hans-Joachim Lehmler, Ph.D., right, discuss their research on how PCBs are broken down into potentially more toxic compounds in the human body.
(Photo courtesy of Hans-Joachim Lehmler)

Study Sheds Light on Breakdown of PCBs to Potentially Harmful Metabolites in Humans

New research out of the University of Iowa SRP Center identified specific cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes and underlying mechanisms involved in the breakdown, or metabolism, of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into compounds that may be more toxic. PCBs are a large and complex group of chemicals that often occur in mixtures and can contaminate soil, groundwater, and air. Exposure to PCBs has been linked to a range of health impacts, including metabolic diseases, developmental neurotoxicity, and cancer.

Nitrous Oxide Halts Breakdown of Chlorinated Compounds

A new SRP study showed that nitrous oxide (N2O), a groundwater contaminant commonly generated from agricultural runoff, inhibits bacterial degradation of certain chlorinated contaminants, including tetrachloroethene (PCE). Led by Frank Loeffler, Ph.D., a Governor's Chair Professor at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the study may explain why bioremediation, or the use of bacteria to break down compounds, can stall at some hazardous waste sites.

NIEHS Environmental Factor Articles

KC Donnelly Externship recipient map

A map representing the travels of the 47 K.C. Donnelly Externship Award recipients to date.
(Photo courtesy of Adeline Lopez)

K.C. Donnelly Awards go to NIEHS Superfund Trainees

Since its beginning in 2011, 47 NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) trainees have received K.C. Donnelly Externship Award Supplements to enrich their research with work at another institution. Jill Riddell and Nabil Shaikh, both doctoral candidates, shared the 2019 award.

New Method Quickly Screens Chemicals for Cancer-Causing Potential

Scientists developed a fast, accurate, and cost-effective way to assess whether a chemical is potentially carcinogenic. The work involved a collaboration between researchers at the National Toxicology Program (NTP), Boston University, and the Broad Institute. Funded in part by the NIEHS SRP, the study was published April 9 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Progress in Research Webinars: View the Archives

The spring SRP Progress in Research webinar series, Biogeochemical Interactions Affecting Bioavailability for in situ Remediation, featured work from SRP individual research projects focused on understanding how contaminants in the environment are affected by complex biological, geological, and chemical processes. By understanding these complex interactions, we are better equipped to optimize remediation strategies and, therefore, improve science-based decision making for site management, priority setting, and remedy selection. The series attracted more than 975 live participants over three sessions.

Held in April and May of this year, the webinars are now archived and available for viewing:

Session I: Innovative Approaches for Chlorinated Compound Bioremediation in Groundwater
Session II: Bioavailability of Mixtures of PAHs, Chlorinated Compounds, and Metals
Session III: Mercury Bioremediation and Biotransformation Under Varying Biogeochemical Conditions