This Superfund Research Program (SRP) Progress in Research webinar series highlights promising research from two SRP Centers. Researchers at the Northeastern University SRP Center are studying chlorinated solvents and phthalates, contaminants that could be linked to high preterm birthrates in Puerto Rico. The University of Kentucky SRP Center explores how nutrition and exercise might offer protection from polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) toxicity and are developing new sustainable remediation approaches using nanotechnology.
Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (Northeastern University SRP Center, P42ES017198)
The Northeastern University Superfund Research Center "Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats," or PROTECT, brings together researchers from multiple disciplines to study the transport, exposure, health impact, and remediation of contaminants. Center researchers are particularly focused on chlorinated solvents and phthalates, which are commonly found at Superfund sites, as both suspect and model agents in the high preterm birth rates in Puerto Rico. To better understand demographic, environmental, and genetic contributors to preterm birth, they are collecting information on exposure and health outcomes in the PROTECT cohort, which includes women from three hospitals in Puerto Rico’s north coast with high rates of preterm birth and their affiliated physician’s clinics. They have developed a tool to extract contaminants from urine samples from the cohort and water samples from the field and are also developing solar-powered green remediation tools to remove TCE from groundwater. They are also investigating the transport and exposure pathways of phthalates and trichloroethylene (TCE) in karst groundwater systems.
Nutrition and Superfund Chemical Toxicity (University of Kentucky Superfund Research Program Center, P42ES007380)
Due to their relative chemical stability and ubiquity in the environment, chlorinated organic contaminants such as PCBs and TCE pose significant health risks and enduring remediation challenges. The University of Kentucky (UK) SRP Center is investigating nutrition and exercise as protective mechanisms against the toxicity of PCBs. Projects are advancing our understanding of toxicant-induced mechanisms of disease, including atherosclerosis, postnatal complications, and diabetes; and introducing sustainable approaches for PCB and TCE remediation, such as green nanomembrane remediation devices. Use of PCBs as a model contaminant will advance understanding of inflammatory diseases associated with exposure to persistent chlorinated organic pollutants. The UK SRP is working with communities and conducting research at three Kentucky Superfund sites: the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Red Penn in Louisville, and Dayhoit in Harlan, Kentucky.