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What's New: Science Highlights

Superfund Research Program

Hunter Moseley
Improved Machine Learning Technique to Reveal How Metabolites Are Created
Science Highlights - February 14, 2024

Researchers from the University of Kentucky (UK) SRP Center are using machine learning techniques to help interpret how chemicals are processed, or metabolized, in the body. A series of interconnected processes in the body, known as metabolic pathways, can convert substances into smaller molecules, or metabolites. For certain chemicals, these metabolites can be more toxic than their parent compound.

FAIR Data Principles
New Workflow Improves Data Management and Sharing
Science Highlights - December 7, 2023

A team of scientists funded by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) published a new workflow to help researchers across disciplines share environmental health data more effectively. The workflow provides a standardized framework for collecting, organizing, and distributing scientific data so that it can be more easily understood and used by other groups.

Weaver Labs Video
For PFAS-polluted Sites, Forum Highlights Best Research Practices
Science Highlights - December 7, 2023

Members of the Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable convened November 7 to share approaches for sampling and characterizing sites polluted by PFAS, a class of harmful chemicals that resist degradation. Through several case studies, speakers also illustrated unique challenges to understanding the sources and extent of PFAS contamination in the field.

Wang and Phillips
Skin cream may protect against floodwater contaminants
Science Highlights - November 17, 2023

Texas A&M University scientists developed a skin cream that may protect people from contaminants in floodwaters, such as benzene, toluene, and xylene. The cream, which forms a barrier between human skin and contaminants, is the culmination of several studies, partially funded by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP), which have explored materials that can adsorb and immobilize toxicants to reduce human exposures.

Banana Peel Processing
Burning Banana Peels to Remove Contaminants from Water
Science Highlights - October 6, 2023

NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP)-funded researchers explored a new, cost-effective method of water treatment using biochar - a conductive, absorbent material - made from banana peels. This approach could inform large-scale, low-cost treatments in water systems, according to the authors at the Northeastern University Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) SRP Center.

Jennifer Kay
Studying DNA Damage and Repair Unlocks Key to Cancer Treatments
Science Highlights - September 11, 2023

How the body repairs DNA damage following exposure to a chemical called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) can provide new insights for cancer treatment, according to Jennifer Kay, Ph.D. The former Massachusetts Institute of Technology SRP Center trainee presented her findings during the August 1 Wetterhahn Award Seminar.

Weihsueh Chiu
New Report Calls for Expanding the Risk Assessment Toolbox
Science Highlights - September 11, 2023

A new report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provides recommendations for implementing new approach methodologies (NAMs) in human health risk assessments. The committee that developed the report, which was sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), included several SRP grant recipients.

OSU silicone wristbands
Silicone Wristbands Track Hundreds of Unique Chemical Exposures
Science Highlights - August 4, 2023

With funding from the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) and other NIEHS programs, researchers at the Oregon State University (OSU) SRP Center developed a simple, non-invasive approach to monitor personal chemical exposures using silicone wristbands. The highly sensitive wristbands can be used to measure exposure to low levels of hundreds of chemicals, offering a unique tool to better understand the complex mixtures people may be exposed to throughout daily life.

Overall System
Tackling Environmental Health Problems from Many Angles
Science Highlights - July 6, 2023

Current and upcoming research to address complex environmental health issues related to hazardous contaminants, climate-related disasters, and more, headlined the recent NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) Progress in Research webinar series. Over the course of four sessions in April and May, the series highlighted 11 new and renewed SRP multiproject centers funded in 2022.

DNA Double Helix
Exposure to NDMA Causes Tell-Tale Mutational Pattern
Science Highlights - June 21, 2023

Researchers with the NIEHS-funded Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center have found distinctive genetic patterns signifying damage from the toxic chemical N-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA. The patterns could potentially be used to monitor cancer development and inform therapeutic interventions.

4 graduate students, Missouri Breaks staff, and center leadership stand outside a trailer with a dog.
Safer Water for Native American Communities
Science Highlights - June 2, 2023

NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP)-funded researchers recently installed filtration systems in Native American communities to reduce exposure to and the health effects of arsenic-contaminated drinking water. Led by the Columbia University Northern Plains SRP Center and in partnership with Northern Plain Tribal Nations and the Indian Health Service, the team installed arsenic filters under household kitchen sinks and launched a corresponding educational campaign.

Wildfire Smoke
New Study Uncovers Mechanism of Heart and Lung Responses to Wildfire Smoke
Science Highlights - April 27, 2023

Climate change is fueling longer wildfire seasons, leading to more frequent and intense fires that could have disastrous consequences for human health. In a recent study, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) SRP Center explored the biological mechanism behind heart and lung responses to wildfire smoke.

Deng Headshot
High-Fiber Diet May Protect Against Exposure to PFOS
Science Highlights - April 1, 2023

A diet rich in fiber may decrease disease risks associated with perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) exposure, according to researchers at the University of Kentucky SRP Center.

children fishing
Developmental PFAS Exposures Affect Bone Health, Study Suggests
Science Highlights - March 3, 2023

Researchers at the University of Rhode Island SRP Center and collaborators revealed a link between developmental per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure and reduced bone density in childhood and adolescence.

mine tailings
Rocking It: Long-Term Research Has Sights on More Sustainable Mining
Science Highlights - March 3, 2023

For the past two decades, researchers with the University of Arizona SRP Center have been studying human exposures to mining waste and how to improve site remediation in the Southwest.

test tubes and dropper.
GenX Exposure Study reports results back to the community
Science Highlights - January 1, 2023

Following the discovery of high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the blood of GenX Exposure Study participants, researchers are working quickly to report their findings back to the North Carolina communities and address their concerns.

two gloved hands holding roots of plant
Community Resilience Talk Kicks Off SRP Climate Change Webinar Series
Science Highlights - November 1, 2022

Current research on climate change and environmental health, as well as strategies to make ecosystems and communities more resilient to climate-related events, headlined the agenda of the first session of the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) Climate Change and Health webinar series, held Oct. 7.

Danielle Carlin, Ph.D.
Role of Complex Exposures in Breast Cancer Highlighted During Workshop
Science Highlights - October 1, 2022

Current breast cancer research and efforts to evaluate how combined exposures can influence the disease were discussed during an NIEHS-led event Aug. 24-25.

Two hands, under the sink
Exposure to Antibacterial Chemical Via Lactation Linked to Liver Damage in Newborn Mice
Science Highlights - September 8, 2022

Funded by SRP, a study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego found evidence that newborn mice can be exposed to the antibacterial chemical triclosan during lactation, resulting in significant fat build up in their liver — an early sign of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Susie Dai, Ph.D., head shot
Plant-Based Material Can Remediate PFAS, New Research Suggests
Science Highlights - September 6, 2022

A novel technology that can efficiently bind to and break down per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the environment was developed by scientists at Texas A&M Agrilife Research with support from an SRP individual research grant.

Three researchers in their lab at the University of Kentucky
Antiviral Membranes Boost Masks' Ability to Stop COVID
Science Highlights - July 15, 2022

Researchers at the University of Kentucky SRP Center created new membranes that can deactivate SARS-CoV-2 on contact, preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Two scientists in the lab examining a yellow sample
Materials Science and Bacteria Are Key to Remediation, Experts Say
Science Highlights - May 19, 2022

During recent NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) Progress in Research webinars, grantees discussed innovative strategies for bioremediation — the process of using bacteria, fungi, and plants to break down contaminants.

Cell phone next to NanoAffix device
NIEHS-Funded Technology to Detect Lead in Water Goes Commercial
Science Highlights - May 17, 2022

NanoAffix Science, LLC developed a new portable device to detect lead in tap water in real time. The team launched its first commercial device, called NanoAquaSense, at the Water Quality Association’s Annual Convention in early April. Their technology is funded through the NIEHS Small Business and Innovation Research program.

Water pitcher with filter filled from the tap.
PFAS Water Filter Developed Through NIEHS Funding
Science Highlights - April 1, 2022

A new filter cartridge that is compatible with Brita pitchers can remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from drinking water. The Purefast cartridges from CycloPure, Inc., are based on DEXSORB+ technology, which was developed with support from an NIEHS Superfund Research Program small business innovation research grant.

SRP trainee handling alligators
Studying Alligators and Humans May Reveal How PFAS Harm the Immune System
Science Highlights - November 22, 2021

Researchers at the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center at North Carolina State University (NCSU) are exploring connections between exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and immune function in both animals and humans. They are gaining insight into how exposure to PFAS over decades may harm the immune system and the body's ability to fight off infections, including COVID-19.

Four squares that read - 1) number of studies: 40; 2) number of specimens analyzed: 63,698; 3) number of subjects: 27,033; 4) Number of Chemicals Targeted: 139
HHEAR Grantee Meeting Highlights Resources for Researchers
Science Highlights - July 16, 2021

NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP)-funded researchers from all over the country tuned in for the Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource (HHEAR) June 2021 Virtual Grantee Meeting. The event was hosted by the HHEAR Coordinating Center and the NIEHS Exposure Science and the Exposome Webinar Series.

illustration of a dna strand on a black background
Linking a DNA Repair Enzyme to Cancer Susceptibility
Science Highlights - May 10, 2021

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center uncovered a mechanism that may explain how N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) can lead to DNA damage and cancer in mice.

Photograph of a plant seedling growing out of a pile of dirt on the ground
SRP Welcomes New Individual Research Grants
Science Highlights - April 27, 2021

The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) welcomes 10 newly funded individual research projects. They are incorporating new advances in materials science to optimize bioremediation of contaminants in soil, sediment, or water. Bioremediation is a cost-effective, energy efficient approach involving bacteria, fungi, and plants to break down and remove hazardous substances from the environment. These projects may offer new breakthroughs to advance sustainable solutions for hazardous substances in the environment.

New Approach to Remove Chemicals from Animal Derived Foods
Science Highlights - January 10, 2021

In a new study, funded in part by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP), researchers improved an approach to remove persistent organic pollutants (POPs) from foods of animal origin. Michael Denison, Ph.D., from the University of California, Davis SRP Center collaborated with a team of researchers from the European Union Reference Laboratory to test several laboratory methods and develop an improved method for the extraction of lipids and associated POPs bound to animal tissue.

OndaVia trained a team of experts to run its water analysis system at the NIH campus. (Photo courtesy of Mark Peterman)
SRP Small Business Successfully Deploys Water Testing Technology at the NIH Campus
Science Highlights - January 6, 2021

NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) small business grantee OndaVia, Inc. successfully implemented their water analysis system at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The system uses spectroscopy and nanotechnology to provide instrumentation for rapid, on-site, easy to use, and inexpensive laboratory-grade testing of chemicals in water.

Graph used to inform households of potential elevated arsenic levels in their neighborhood wells
SRP Studies Highlight Strategies to Improve Well Testing for Arsenic and Document Benefits
Science Highlights - October 1, 2020

In a pair of recent publications, researchers from the Columbia University SRP Center demonstrated a strategy to improve private well testing for arsenic. They also showed that water treatment systems effectively reduced arsenic water levels and may reduce the likelihood of developing cancer.

altered tubular networks in endothelial cells compared to control
New Approach Links Cell Studies to Human Health
Science Highlights - September 3, 2020

A new NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP)-funded study demonstrated a strategy using data from cell studies to characterize how exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may harm human health, particularly the cardiovascular system. PCBs are a large and complex group of chemicals that often occur in mixtures and can contaminate soil, groundwater, and air.

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