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United States Environmental Protection Agency
Understanding Arsenic: From Vasculature to Vegetables
Sponsored by: U.S. EPA Region 9 and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Superfund Research Program
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Presentation Overview:

This two-part seminar will feature Dr. Todd Camenisch and Monica Ramirez-Andreotta from the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program and will focus on arsenic effects on cardiovascular development and arsenic uptake in garden vegetables. The impact of arsenic on human health has been largely focused on cellular transformation and cancer in adults. Mechanistic studies of arsenic on the cardiovascular system have been limited, and even less is known about the effects of early arsenic insult (pre- or neonatal) on cardiotoxicity. Dr. Todd Camenisch will discuss studies using a mouse model as an intact system to reveal mechanisms of arsenic-triggered cardiovascular toxicity during development. To our knowledge, this is the first animal study to assess cardiovascular changes in response to chronic exposure to environmentally-relevant concentrations of arsenic. Measures of cardiac formation and function have revealed important effects on cardiac development in the mouse model; outcomes and significance for cardiovascular health in chronically-exposed populations will be discussed. There is a growing need to accurately evaluate the toxicological risks to resident food gardeners neighboring contaminated environments. Mónica D. Ramírez-Andreotta, MPA, will report on her study Gardenroots: The Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona Garden Project, which was designed to determine the uptake of arsenic and lead in commonly grown vegetables in Arizona and evaluate the possible health risks to the local population. The project comprised a greenhouse study and a citizen science program conducted with a community neighboring a national Superfund site. A comparative analysis was conducted between the concentrations of arsenic and lead found in the soils, irrigation water, edible tissues of crops from the greenhouse and residential gardens. Vegetable intake rates were calculated to determine how much could be safely consumed at these measured concentrations. The citizen science program will be discussed in terms of recruitment, training, informal science learning opportunities, sample collection, communication efforts, and potential participant educational outcomes.

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