Superfund Research Program
Project Leader: Ellen B. Gold
Grant Number: P42ES004699
Funding Period: 2000-2010
This project provides epidemiologic evaluation of human health effects associated with exposure to environmental contaminants in residents adjacent to a Superfund site in Sacramento, California. Dr. Gold and her lab accomplish this by evaluating physiologic dysfunction, specifically reproductive and other hormone-related health effects, in female adults (aged 20-50 years during the likely exposure period of 1988-96) residing downwind or in the groundwater plume of the Sacramento Superfund site and comparing the rates of these health effects to a non-exposed but similar population nearby and relating these rates to likelihood of exposure. In addition to interviewing women residing in these areas and in a comparison area, the lab researchers will use serum and urine biomarkers of exposure and of health effects that have been developed here.
Thus far, this project has identified over 4500 households and screened over 1260 women in the three study areas for eligibility in the study and has interviewed 646 women and obtained blood from the first 450 eligible women and daily urine samples for two menstrual cycles from 274 women who were still menstruating in the three areas. The researchers have suspended blood collection, having found no significant differences in serum parameters they were measuring among the three study sites. The three study areas appear comparable on a number of socioeconomic indicators, as well as on general community and women's health concerns (none of the top 4 of which include the Superfund site or endocrine/reproductive concerns, respectively).
Further, the lab has observed no notable differences in thyroid hormone levels among the first 450 women examined in the three study areas, as expected, since the relevant exposure that might have affected thyroid function ended in 1996, and no prolonged adverse effect on the thyroid would be expected. The lab researchers have detected no evidence of environmental estrogens in any of the first 250 urine samples tested and have thus suspended this testing. Largely, no notable differences are seen in reproductive health effects, but further analyses with additional data are required from this ongoing project to determine any differences in health effects that might have occurred during the times of likely exposure.
Applications of epidemiologic techniques in this project will not only facilitate applications of the biomarkers in humans in the exposed population and assessment of the relation of exposure to environmental contaminants to human health effects, but will also illuminate modification of these effects by host and lifestyle factors. In turn, this project will contribute to the other projects by providing epidemiologic expertise for developing further field applications of techniques developed in the UCD laboratories in the future. In this effort, this project will be highly dependent on the various analytic projects, such as the Fate and Transport Project and Reproductive Biomarkers Project as well as the Statistical Core to evaluate exposures to endocrine disruptors as a result of residing downwind or in the groundwater plume of a Superfund site, to assess the likely routes of exposure, and to assess the relation of such exposures to adverse reproductive and other endocrine health effects.