Superfund Research Program
Research Translation Core
Studies and Results:
Aim 1: Dynamically transfer information generated by the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program to increase stakeholder's level of knowledge regarding hazardous wastes, environmental contaminants, and human-health risk.
- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Community Involvement Coordinators are distributing the outreach materials generated by the Research Translation and Outreach Cores at Community Advisory Board meetings and to communities neighboring contaminated sites across the state of Arizona.
- To date, 39 "News and Highlights" briefs have been added to the UA SRP website since April, 2012 and distributed to diverse stakeholders, including federal, state, and local government agencies, and Southwestern Hispanic and Border stakeholders. 30% of these news items were subsequently featured in SRP/NIEHS internet publications.
- Research performed by UA SRP researchers was featured in two Research Briefs in 2012 (one in Feb and one in Oct) in the NIEHS monthly email series/website highlighting individual SRP projects.
- UA SRP participated at Community Advisory Board meetings for the following Superfund sites: TIAA, Motorola / 52 Street, Phoenix / Goodyear Airport, Indian Bend, and Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter, and facilitated presentations by UA researchers at these events.
- UA SRP investigators helped coordinate and participated in the international conference "The Geochemistry of Hazardous Substances - Human Health and Ecological Health Risk Factors", held April 10-13, 2012, in Gwangju, Korea.
- UA SRP investigators helped coordinate and participated in the 3rd Biannual 2012 National Latino Cancer Summit from July 23 – 25, 2012 in San Francisco, California.
- The UA SRP organized and hosted the NIEHS "Epigenetic Actions of Environmental Arsenicals" workshop on September 20-22, at Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, AZ.
The UA SRP published a new issue in their popular series of community information sheets; this one is focused on phytoremediation, or the use of plants to treat environmental pollution. In addition, their "Arizona Know Your Water" booklet was updated and reprinted.
Aim 2: Build upon and nurture existing partnerships with government agencies and other entities and develop additional long-term collaborations.
- Multiple partnerships have been developed and maintained with representatives of the U.S. EPA and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. For example, UA SRP has continued the collaboration with Michael Gill (US EPA Region 9) to co-host a series of "Live at Region 9" seminars and reprised via CLU-IN webinars, to bring UA SRP research products to Remedial Project Managers (RPM). Since April, 2012 UA SRP investigators presented three seminars: the 2-part Understanding Arsenic, from Vasculature (As and early cardiovacular development) to Vegetables (Gardenroots: The Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona Garden Project), and Pollution Prevention Success Story: Partnering with Promotoras.
- UA SRP recently participated in the conference "Connecting Research and Practice: A Dialogue between ATSDR and the NIEHS Superfund Research Program." The goal of the event was to investigate shared points of research interests and possibilities for collaboration between the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and SRP grantees.
- In collaboration with the UA SRP Community Engagement Core, the RTC is working to develop culturally-relevant educational modules on environmental health topics. UA SRP received a grant to develop the module, "Health Risks from Environmental Exposures," with existing promotora community partners. In addition, UA SRP has been working with the Tohono O'odham Nation to develop community college-level modules on mining-related issues.
Aim 3: Facilitate the transfer of technology (moving research findings into application) by increasing the number of demonstration projects at Superfund sites.
- RTC efforts to facilitate technology transfer through established relationships with EPA Superfund site managers continue with field studies to test innovative characterization and remediation methods for chlorinated-solvent contaminated sites (conducted at the Tucson International Airport Area federal Superfund site) and mine tailing sites (Iron King Mine Humboldt Smelter Superfund Site (IKMHSS) and ASARCO Hayden-Winkelman site).
- The long-term efforts conducted at the TIAA site have led to the development of new RTC projects at additional chlorinated-solvent sites in Phoenix, illustrating the acknowledgement among site owners and regulators of the benefits of the UA SRP RTC activities concerning chlorinated solvents.
- The IKMHSS activities include a field study (Phytostablization of Mine Tailings in the Southwestern United States: Plant-Soil-Microbe Interactions and Metal Speciation Dynamics) investigating optimal methods for revegetation of mine tailings (now in Phase III). Additionally, sampling towers and equipment have been installed to characterize and evaluate the impact of the revegetation study on dust emissions from the site (Characterization of Wind Blown Dust from Tailings and other Mining Operations in the Southwestern United States). A third study, funded jointly by SRP and U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development, is a citizen-science project called Gardenroots. The RTC has also been facilitating SRP interactions with EPA and the local community to move an exposure study forward (Metals Exposure Study in Homes).
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.
- Evaluation metrics are being incorporated into RTC activities, which will allow the UA SRP to better assess the impact of these efforts. For example, an extensive assessment of the impact of RTC activities is a component of the Gardenroots project noted above. In addition, the RTC has developed a survey that appears when internet users access UA SRP informational materials, to help determine the effectiveness of these materials.
An important part of the UA SRP research process is making sure that stakeholders are aware of expertise and innovative research products related to hazardous waste issues. The UA SRP RTC has successfully built communication pipelines to the desert southwest area including EPA Region 9, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, hazardous waste site owners and operators, and consulting firms that are working with regulators and site owners. Metrics that demonstrate the success and positive valuation of the RTC by target stakeholders include 1) the continuing expansion of UA SRP RTC activities to additional sites and stakeholders; 2) continued and expanding use of UA SRP informational materials by stakeholders; and 3) continued inquiries from news media soliciting the opinion of UA SRP expertise on questions involving exposure risk and remediation approaches in the southwestern US.