Superfund Research Program
Research Translation Core
Studies and Results
Aim 1: Dynamically transfer information generated by the UA SRP to increase stakeholder's level of knowledge regarding hazardous wastes, environmental contaminants, and human-health risk.
Fifty four "News and Highlights" briefs have been added to the UA SRP website since April, 2013 and regularly distributed as an email newsletter to diverse stakeholders, including NIEHS, federal, state, and local government agencies, and Southwestern Hispanic and Border stakeholders. Many of these news items were subsequently featured in SRP/NIEHS internet and email publications. In addition, UA SRP research was featured in an NIEHS SRP Research Brief in 2013. The Research and Translation Core is using a "Twitter" account to share UA SRP news with NIEHS and other followers and making regular entries into the NIEHS SRP online reporting tool.
UA SRP investigators and trainees organized and participated in the "Socially Responsible Mining" session of the 15th International Conference of the Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health, September 24-27, 2013, Honolulu, HI.
The UA SRP organized and hosted the NIEHS sponsored "Airborne Mineral Dust Contaminants: Impacts on Human Health and the Environment" workshop May 20-21, 2013, in Tucson, AZ.
Informational materials developed with the Community Engagement Core continue to be the most-highly accessed portions of the website. This year, additions to the freely-available materials included bilingual "Transferable Training Modules on Environmental Science," and two new community information sheets, "What is Mercury" and "Phytoremediation". Hard copies of these materials continue to be distributed to communities throughout AZ by the UA SRP and state agency partners. In addition, RTC Co-I Janick Artiola worked with UA Cooperative Extension partners to develop a series of informational videos for well owners in Arizona, which are available on the website and on Youtube.
Aim 2: Build upon and nurture existing partnerships with government agencies and other entities and develop additional long-term collaborations.
For the seventh year running, the RTC has collaborated with Michael Gill, US EPA Region 9 Superfund and Technology Liaison, to co-host the "Live at Region 9" seminar series. These seminars feature UA SRP research to an audience of EPA Remedial Project Managers (RPM), first through a live presentation at Region 9 and then through a CLU-IN webinar. This year, the RTC has worked collaboratively with Candace Spier Bever, (RTC, UC Davis SRP) to involve Davis SRP researchers. Since April, 2013, four SRP investigators (3 from UA, 1 from Davis) presented two seminars, and another two joint seminars are being planned for 2014.
A major highlight this year was the Core's participation in a multi-agency community meeting in Dewey-Humboldt, AZ which neighbors the Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund Site. This event (December 7, 2013) required extensive planning and coordination with State and Federal partners throughout 2013 including US EPA Region 9 (Jeff Dhont, RPM, Amanda Pease, Community Involvement Coordinator (CIC), and Sophia Serda, Toxicologist), ATSDR (Ben Gerhardstein, Public Health Advisor, and Jaime Rayman, Health Educator), Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (Sara Benovic and Harry Handler, RPMs, Wendy Flood, CIC), the Arizona Department of Health Services (Amber Asbury, Hsin-I Lin Cox, Jennifer Botsford). The Research and Translation Core developed coordinated messaging to inform community members about how they may be exposed to arsenic and other metals (from both Superfund and natural sources) and to provide practical advice for limiting exposure. They used data from UA SRP Projects and agency studies in the community to provide real-life examples of exposure and exposure reduction.
The Core has maintained its longstanding relationship with agency partners and the communities at three other Superfund sites in AZ. They regularly participate in and facilitate presentations by UA researchers at Community Advisory Board meetings at the Tucson International Airport Authority (TIAA) Superfund site, the Motorola/52nd Street Superfund site, and the Phoenix/Goodyear Airport Superfund site.
Aim 3: Facilitate the transfer of technology (moving research findings into application) by increasing the number of demonstration projects at Superfund sites.
The Core is continuing efforts to facilitate technology transfer through established relationships with EPA Remedial Project Managers at chlorinated solvent-contaminated sites. Long-term efforts at the TIAA Superfund site (the Mass-Transfer and Mass-Flux Dynamics of Chlorinated Solvents in Heterogeneous Systems project) have led to requests for Core participation at additional chlorinated-solvent sites in Phoenix, illustrating the usefulness of UA SRP RTC activities to site owners and regulators at these sites.
Activities in Dewey-Humboldt, AZ (Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund Site) include a field study (the Phytostabilization of Mine Tailings in the Southwestern United States project) investigating optimal methods for revegetation of mine tailings. Sampling towers and equipment are characterizing dust emissions from the site and evaluating the impact of the revegetation study. The citizen-science project "Gardenroots", investigating levels of metals in garden vegetables, was completed and results have informed local gardening best practices. A pilot study was provided to the Role of Mineral Genesis, Dissolution, and Sorption on Arsenic Fateproject to examine the bioaccessibility of metals in the Iron King mine wastes to help inform exposure levels. The Metals Exposure Study in Homes project (MESH) is nearing completion; participants have received feedback, and final results will inform best practices for limiting metals exposure in the community.
Aim 4: Develop metrics for environmental research translation, and apply them to evaluate the effectiveness of environmental research translation efforts specific to the demographics of the southwestern US.
The team continues to apply metrics to their RTC efforts. Through the use of Google Analytics, they are able to track traffic to their website, including numbers of hits and user demographics. Through surveys made available online, the Core has received feedback on their informational materials from the general public, and feedback on the "Airborne Mineral Dust" workshop from participants.
It is all too common that a major divide exists between generation of cutting-edge research products and the transfer of those products to stakeholders for application of technology in the field or for use of information in decision-making. To bridge this divide, the UA SRP Research Translation Core mission is to facilitate bringing insights and results from their novel research to bear on understanding and helping to resolve environmental contamination and health issues of concern to the Region. For regulatory stakeholders (e.g., EPA Region 9, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality), the Core's efforts help improve informed decision-making. For practitioners (e.g., industry, environmental consultants), their efforts provide information on innovative approaches and methods for characterizing and remediating contaminated sites. For communities, the Research and Translation Core's efforts help to develop a more informed, empowered, and involved populace. This has particular relevance for those who reside near contaminated sites, providing them the means and opportunity to have an impact on their condition.