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Final Progress Reports: University of Iowa: The AESOP Study: Airborne Exposures to Semi-volatile Organic Pollutants

Superfund Research Program

The AESOP Study: Airborne Exposures to Semi-volatile Organic Pollutants

Project Leader: Peter S. Thorne
Co-Investigators: Andres Martinez, Rachel F. Marek
Grant Number: P42ES013661
Funding Period: 2006-2025
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Final Progress Reports

Year:   2019  2014  2009 

The AESOP Study was designed to assess exposures to atmospheric PCBs among two cohort groups both consisting of children and their mothers. One site, East Chicago, IN, is in an urban area contaminated with legacy pollutants from intense past industrial activity and where dredging and filling of PCB-laden sediments will occur during the study period. The other site, Columbus Junction, IA, is a low-exposure rural Iowa cohort and is without known local sources of PCBs. Exposures are being assessed through yearly blood sample collection and quarterly air sampling both inside and outside of homes of study participants and at the local schools. Blood and air samples are assayed for PCB congener profiles. In 2010, a dredging project will begin that will place 3.5 million cubic meters of contaminated sediment into a confined disposal facility adjacent to the East Chicago Junior High and High Schools. This dredging project has the potential to increase PCB exposures in the community.

IRB approval was obtained for study recruitment, documents (brochures; questionnaires, consents and assents); air sampling; blood and saliva (DNA) sample collection. Subject recruitment and enrollment has been successful and is ongoing in both Columbus Junction and in East Chicago with 250 enrolled subjects thus far. Air sampling in East Chicago and Columbus Junction commenced in early 2007 and is ongoing outdoors and inside the schools and homes. High volume and passive air samples have been analyzed by the Analytical Core and demonstrate that nearly all the PCBs are in the gas phase. This validates the passive sampling approach being used for the household level exposure assessment. Household air samples and subjects’ blood samples are being analyzed for all 209 congeners using triple quad GC-tandem MS. PCB levels in household air samples and in blood demonstrate detectable levels of many congeners. Blood PCB levels normalized to blood lipids are higher on average for East Chicago mothers than for their children or for the Columbus Junction mothers. Questionnaire data on local fish and game consumption and on potential occupational exposures has been collected on all enrolled subjects. A mechanistically-based bioaccumulation model that considers ingestion and inhalation exposures has been adapted for use in evaluating PCB exposures in these cohorts. Investigators have worked with the Outreach and Education Core, the Research Translation Core, the junior high school science teachers, and the research team’s community advisory boards to establish close ties with these two communities. This has been critical to the establishment of these cohorts and the success of the study.

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