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Superfund Basic Research Program

November 12, 2006

Brown University Senior Wins Best Poster Award

Shawn Manchester, a Brown University senior working with Dr. Robert Hurt, won the student award for the best poster in the environmental area at the Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), held November 12-17, 2006, in San Francisco, CA. Shawn's poster was titled: "Novel Nanostructured Sorbents for Mercury Capture."

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August 24, 2006

University of Arizona Research Translation Efforts Pay Off: BLM Grants $25,000 to Support Phytostabilization Demonstration Project

University of Arizona (UA) SBRP Associate Director and Environmental Microbiologist, Raina Maier and her research team having been working on UA SBRP project "Phytostabilization of Mine Tailings in the Southwestern United States: Plant-Soil-Microbe Interactions and Metal Speciation Dynamics". Promising preliminary results combined with the UA SBRP Research Translation Core’s communication with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (Translation Efforts Beyond the Laboratory: UA SBRP goes 1 - 1 with Local Citizens), has led to a $25,000 grant from the BLM to phytostabilize a 1.5 acre mine tailings site adjacent to the San Pedro River in the San Pedro River National Conservation Area in southern Arizona. A mixture of native forb and grass seeds will be applied to establish a vegetative cover on 1.5 acres at the San Pedro River mine tailings site. The site will be monitored for two years following seeding to measure growth and to determine shoot metal uptake in selected plants.

The UA SBRP Research Translation Core is excited that this grant is the result of ongoing communication with BLM and local community members. It is part of the Research Translation Core mission to build capacity within the community, while simultaneously maximizing its research efforts and leveraging additional funds and demonstration sites.

See more on the University of Arizona SBRP website ( s.html) Exit NIEHS Website.

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August 3, 2006

Brown University’s Community Outreach Success Stories

ECHO (Environmentally Compromised Home Opportunity) Program
Governor Carcieri carried out a ceremonial signing of the Environmentally Compromised Home Opportunity Revolving Loan Fund Act at ENACT leader Gail Corvello's house in Tiverton on Friday July 21, 2006. This bill was proposed by Brown University’s Superfund Basic Research Program's Community Outreach Core, in collaboration with its partner group ENACT, as well as Rep. Amaral and Sen. Felag. The ECHO (Environmentally Compromised Home Opportunity) program will have $500,000 available, through the Rhode Island Housing Authority, making low-interest home improvement loans of up to $25,000 for homeowners with toxic contamination, as certified by the DEM. Governor Carcieri, Sen. Chafee, State Sen. Walter Felag, State Rep. Joe Amaral, and ENACT Leader Gail Corvello all spoke about the importance of the act, and thanked the Brown University crew in particular. There was a large turnout and excellent press coverage.

Assistance for Rhode Island Legal Services
Brown University’s Community Outreach Core assisted Rhode Island Legal Services (RILS) in writing a Healthy Communities Grant proposal that EPA recently awarded, to expand the work of the Providence Environmental Justice Education Forum. The Project will expand the capacity of Providence residents to engage in advocacy on environmental justice issues by bringing information to residents through producing accessibly written informational brochures, holding community forums, educating residents about applicable laws and policies that provide for and promote environmental justice, and creating the space for residents to meet, discuss and plan future environmental justice advocacy efforts.

New Rhode Island School Siting Law
As a result of community opposition to the City of Providence’s practice of siting new public schools on top of toxic waste sites, the General Assembly passed and Governor Carcieri signed legislation that gives the public additional opportunities to voice concerns about the reuse of contaminated sites for school, child-care or public recreation facilities. This new legislation, introduced at the request of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), requires sponsors of school, child care, or public recreational facilities to conduct an environmental due diligence investigation and hold a public meeting to discuss the investigation and solicit public comment about the site.

Brown’s Superfund Basic Research Program Community Outreach Core has been working with Rhode Island Legal Services and community activists at Hartford Park Residents Association and at Mashapaug Pond on this school siting issue, as well as participating with RIDEM in a newly formed statewide stakeholder group. Our research assistants continue to put considerable effort into working with groups on the proposed high school siting on Mashapaug Pond, and we have also placed students in service learning projects there. The Community Outreach Core sees school siting as a national issue which is receiving growing attention, and is pleased to help in this process.

A copy of the legislation is available on the State of Rhode Island General Assembly ( /law06250.htm) Exit NIEHS Website website.

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July 21, 2006

Brown University SBRP Researchers Receive Awards

Brown University SBRP Community Outreach Core Leader, Dr. Phil Brown, will be awarded The Fred Buttel Distinguished Contribution to Environmental Sociology Award from the Environment and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association, August 2006. "The Fred Buttel Distinguished Contribution Award is given each year to a section member for outstanding service, innovation, teaching, and publication in the sociology of the environment and technology."

Brown University SBRP Investigator, Dr. Surendra Sharma, was recently awarded an Honorary Doctor of Medicine Degree by the Faculty of Health Sciences of Linkoping University, Linkoping, Sweden. Dr. Sharma has nearly a decade of collaborative ventures with Linkoping University (LiU). The Honorary Doctor ceremonies took place from May 11-14, 2006 in twin cities, Linkoping and Norrkoping, and entailed ceremonial lunches and meetings with the Governor of the province and President and Dean of Medicine of the University along with other recipients and dignitaries.

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July 14, 2006

EPA Dioxin Assessment Understates Uncertainties, May Overstate Cancer Risk

EPA comprehensively reviewed the scientific literature in a draft assessment of the health risks of dioxin, but it did not adequately quantify the uncertainties associated with the risks, nor did it adequately justify the assumptions used to estimate them, says a new National Research Council report. Using different assumptions may result in a lower estimated cancer risk for humans exposed to low doses of dioxin and related compounds.

Check the National Academies webpage ( 60711c.html) Exit NIEHS Website for more details and the full report.

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June 26, 2006

EHP recognized as top journal in field

The NIEHS journal Environmental Health Perspectives received the "Pioneer of Precaution" award from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), Environmental Research Foundation (ERF) and Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN). SBRP-funded researchers publish more frequently in EHP than any other journal--and as another measure of the significance of EHP, its Impact Factor increased from 3.929 (2004) to 5.342 (2005). EHP is now the #1 ranked journal in the categories of Environmental Sciences (out of 134 journals) and Public, Environmental and Occupational Health (out of 93 journals).

UC-Berkeley holds SBRP Kickoff Event

The University of California - Berkeley SBRP recently held a kick-off event for the SBRP program. Presentations and pictures are posted on the University of California - Berkeley SBRP website ( Exit NIEHS Website

Please note the audio presentations for two of the projects. These provide excellent overviews. The UC-Berkeley SBRP researchers plan to record audio presentations for the rest of the projects in the near future and make them available online.

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June 22, 2006

University of Arizona SBRP has Strong Presence at 2006 EPA Science Forum

Three UA SBRP researchers were selected for the 2006 EPA Science Forum, titled: Your Health, Your Environment, Your Future (2006 Forum). The conference took place in Washington, D.C., May 16-18, 2005. The 2006 Forum featured the collaborative efforts of the EPA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The objective of the 2006 Forum was to illuminate the relationship between the environment and public health, and included plenary sessions titled: Disease Susceptibility and the Environment, Global Challenges and The Built Environment.

The following UA SBRP researchers were selected to attend and present a poster at the 2006 Forum:

Wendell Ela
Session: The Built Environment
Title: Arsenic Release from Water Treatment Residuals: An Example of Proactive Environmental Engineering

Walter Klimecki
Session: Disease Susceptibility and the Environment
Title: Gene by Environment Effects in Arsenic Metabolism: Genetic Polymorphisms with Differential Effects in Children
*This poster was awarded a third place ribbon in the 2006 Forum poster competition.

Clark Lantz
Session: Disease Susceptibility and the Environment
Title: Pulmonary Biomarkers Based on Alterations in Protein Expression Following Exposure to Arsenic

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June 7, 2006

University of Kentucky SBRP graduate student receives Presidential Fellowship Award

Lei Wang is a doctoral student for the Graduate Center for Nutritional Sciences in Dr. Bernhard Hennig's lab. NIEHS and the University of Kentucky are pleased to announce that she has received a Presidential Fellowship Award for the 2006-2007 academic year. The fellowship is for $15,000, effective July 1, 2006-June 30, 2007. Congratulations to Ms. Wang for this accomplishment!

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April 18, 2006

Mount Sinai School of Medicine SBRP Program Director Philip Landrigan to receive EPA's 2006 Children's Environmental Health Champion Award

EPA is honoring 14 organizations and individuals for their outstanding leadership in protecting children from environmental risks.  EPA plays a major role in protecting infants and children, who are more susceptible than adults to some environmental hazards, because their nervous, immune, digestive and other systems are still developing.

The 2006 Children's Environmental Health Champion Award will be presented to Dr. Philip J. Landrigan - a pioneer and leader in the field of children's environmental health.  Dr. Landrigan is being recognized for his many accomplishments including his work with the Center for Children's Health and the Environment and the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at Mt. Sinai, both supported in part by EPA.

The Children's Environmental Health Awards are designed to recognize ongoing and sustainable dedication to, and notable leadership in, protecting children from environmental health risks at the local, regional, national and international level.  Twenty-nine additional organizations were awarded Recognition Awards for their demonstrated commitment to protecting children from environmental health risks.

A complete list of the excellence and recognition award recipients and a description of their programs is available on the US Environmental Protection Agency website ( ent/2006_ceh_awards.htm) Exit NIEHS Website.

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March 14, 2006

The University of Arizona (UA) just received $1.5 million administered through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set up a Binational Center for Environmental Sciences and Toxicology (Binational Center) to resolve environmental health challenges along the US-Mexico Border. The Binational Center fosters partnership between UA scientists from six colleges with Mexican scientists from 10 different universities and research institutes. The multidisciplinary international team will jointly conduct collaborative research and human capacity building activities in the areas of environmental science and toxicology.

For more information refer to the University of Arizona SBRP website ( s.html) Exit NIEHS Website.

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February 28, 2006

The University of Arizona SBRP investigators, Drs. Eric Betterton and Eduardo Sáez, were recently awarded $25,000 from 3M Corporation to work collaboratively on the degradation of perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in water via gamma irradiation. PFCs are essential ingredients in a family of Teflon-like substances with multiple consumer applications such as; non-stick pots and pans, stain repellents for carpets and furniture, and weather-proof fabrics. Industry makes use of the slick, heat-stable properties of these chemicals to manufacture everything from computers to cosmetics and household cleaners.

PFCs are composed of varying lengths of carbon chains, strongly bonded to fluorine atoms, which create nearly indestructible chemicals that were thought to be biologically inert. Recent research shows that some PFCs do actually breakdown, but only as far as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS); which are accumulating in the environment and may pose a serious health risk to humans. According to the EPA, PFOA is "persistent in the environment…" and in 1978 PFOA was confirmed to be "completely resistant to biodegradation" in a study done by 3M*.

Betterton and Sáez have conducted an initial study demonstrating that gamma irradiation degrades PFOA and PFOS in water, at low but significant yields. It is hypothesized that degradation is initiated by the attack of an aquated electron that is formed from the radiological decomposition of water. To understand whether this treatment process can result in the full decomposition of PFCs in water and what the efficiency is for the reaction; 3M and UA researchers need to progress past the proof-of-concept stage.

By working together, The University of Arizona team will irradiate various PFC samples provided by 3M. These irradiated samples will them be sent back to the 3M Environmental Lab to identify the irradiation products and determine the concentration of the remaining fluorochemicals through tandem mass spectrometry. Once the analyses at 3M are complete, the data will be shared with the University of Arizona to determine the effectiveness of the process. Ultimately, this endeavor could yield a viable commercial treatment for PFCs in contaminated groundwater or surface water supplies.

For more information refer to the University of Arizona SBRP website ( s.html) Exit NIEHS Website.

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February 28, 2006

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill SBRP Program Director, Dr. James Swenberg, has been named Kenan Distinguished Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, an endowed faculty position awarded to outstanding scholars and teachers. Swenberg’s successful research career has focused on chemical carcinogenesis and toxicology, with an emphasis on studying the role of DNA damage and repair in carcinogenesis, developing highly sensitive assay methods for DNA adduct research, and improving the scientific basis of risk assessment.

Swenberg joined UNC-Chapel Hill in 1989 after a successful industrial and research institute career. He initially was appointed in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and joined the School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in 1990, followed by the Nutrition Department in 1997. He also serves as director of the UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility and the UNC Curriculum in Toxicology. Professor Swenberg is a member of numerous prestigious toxicology, cancer research and pathology societies and has served on numerous science advisory boards.

A prolific author, Swenberg has published over 300 scientific papers and has served on the editorial boards of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention; Cancer Research; Carcinogenesis; Chemical-Biological Interactions; Chemical Research in Toxicology; Environmental Health Perspectives; Food and Chemical Toxicology; Fundamental and Applied Toxicology; Neuro-Oncology; and Toxicologic Pathology. He has received numerous awards including the George Scott Award from the Toxicology Forum, the John Barnes Prize Lectureship from the British Toxicology Society, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Distinguished Research Alumnus Award from the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The Kenan professorships were created through a 1917 bequest from Mary Lily Kenan Flagler Bingham to honor her father and uncle, Thomas S. Kenan and James Graham Kenan. Her bequest was one of the largest gifts made to a state university at the time.

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