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Your Environment. Your Health.

What's New: Science Highlights

Superfund Research Program

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.

Dragonfly in specimen jar
Dragonflies Provide Insight into Mercury Pollution Across U.S. National Parks
Science Highlights - August 13, 2020

A researcher from the NIEHS-funded Dartmouth College Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center contributed to the first-ever survey of mercury pollution in the U.S. National Park System. The study, built on nearly a decade of research across the country, found that immature dragonfly larvae can be used to estimate the amount of mercury that is present in local fish, amphibians, and birds.

Artist rendering of figures progressing from childhood to adulthood
SRP Contributes to Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource, Grantees Eligible to Use Resource
Science Highlights - May 15, 2020

The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) contributed to the Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource (HHEAR) initiative, which provides NIH-funded researchers access to centralized, high-quality exposure assessment services. All SRP grantees are eligible to use this resource to analyze samples. The next round of applications are due June 26 and August 28, 2020.

John Meeker, Sc.D
Linking Environmental Chemicals and Preterm Birth in Puerto Rico
Science Highlights - April 9, 2020

Two new studies from Northeastern University's SRP Center, Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT), found links between poor birth outcomes and exposure to environmental chemicals, including metals and flame retardants. Led by John Meeker, Sc.D., and funded by NIEHS, both studies leverage the Center's PROTECT birth cohort to explore the environmental factors that contribute to preterm birth in Puerto Rico, which has one of the highest preterm birth rates in the world.

Dibakar Bhattacharyya and Lindell Ormsbee
New Membrane Technologies Clean Up Contaminated Water
Science Highlights - February 28, 2020

In two recent studies, researchers at the University of Kentucky SRP Center demonstrated that they can effectively remove contaminants, including trichloroethylene and perfluorooctanoic acid, from water using specialized membranes. Led by Dibakar Bhattacharyya, Ph.D., the research team developed functional membranes that can both trap and degrade contaminants.

Philippe Grandjean
Early-Life PFAS Exposure May Affect Childhood Metabolism
Science Highlights - January 28, 2020

Exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) during prenatal and early childhood periods could alter metabolic hormones in children, according to a study from the University of Rhode Island Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center. The researchers found that with increased early-life exposure to PFAS, adipokine hormone levels during childhood decreased. Adipokines are a family of hormones thought to play a key role in energy metabolism.

Kelly Ferguson, Ph.D., and John Meeker, Sc.D.
Collaboration Between NIEHS and SRP Center Finds Phthalates May Contribute to Preterm Births
Science Highlights - November 25, 2019

Puerto Rico does not just have one of the highest preterm birth rates in the United States, it has one of the highest preterm birth rates in the world. Researchers from Northeastern University's Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center, a multi-institution collaboration, may be a step closer to understanding why.

Findable, Accessible, Reusable, Interoperable, Accelerating the Pace of Research
Supplements Expand SRP's Capacity for Data Sharing
Science Highlights - October 23, 2019

The Superfund Research Program (SRP) awarded administrative supplements to its Multiproject Center (P42) and Individual Research (R01) grantees to expand data integration, interoperability, and reuse. The SRP encourages data sharing among its grantees to accelerate new discoveries, stimulate new collaborations, and increase scientific transparency and rigor.

Artistic rendering of graphene
Blocking Mosquitoes with a Graphene Shield
Science Highlights - September 11, 2019

An innovative graphene-based film helps shield people from disease-carrying mosquitoes, according to a new study. The research, conducted by the Brown University Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center, was published August 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Site-adapted community at contaminated site, high-throughput sequencing and analyses, targeted culture designed for precision bioaugmentation, and community capable of enhanced biodegradation
Modifying Microbes to Reduce Soil Contamination
Science Highlights - September 3, 2019

Microbes in soil can break down just about anything from fallen leaves to harmful contaminants, with the right combination of species. The Duke University Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center identifies which microbial communities in soils can enhance degradation of contaminants.

Joseph Braun, Ph.D.,
Childhood Exposure to PFAS May Change Metabolism
Science Highlights - August 6, 2019

A study led by Joseph Braun, Ph.D., at the Brown University Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center, explains how per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) alter biological pathways involved in metabolism. PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that persist in the environment and are used in firefighting foam, cookware coatings, carpets, and upholstery.

male reproductive toxicity
Key Characteristics Help Researchers Understand Male Reproductive Toxicants
Science Highlights - June 28, 2019

New research from the University of California, Berkeley Superfund Research Program (UC Berkeley SRP) Center identifies a set of eight key characteristics for male reproductive toxicants (MRTs) - chemicals that cause negative effects on the male reproductive system. Key characteristics explain the actions of certain chemicals inside the body.

Silicone Wristbands
Silicone Wristbands Identify Common Exposures Across Continents
Science Highlights - June 27, 2019

In a new study, funded in part by the Oregon State University Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center, researchers identified common chemical exposure trends in 14 communities across three continents. The researchers, led by Kim Anderson, Ph.D., used silicone wristbands that capture personal exposures to investigate differences and trends in chemical mixtures in North America, South America, and Africa.

Sara Hearon, Tim Phillips, and Meichen Wang
Technology to Reduce Harmful Exposures after Disasters Goes Commercial
Science Highlights - June 6, 2019

Researchers at the Texas A&M University (TAMU) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center have developed a new technology that can bind to hazardous chemicals in the body after exposure, reducing their uptake in the body. This technology, known as broad acting enterosorbent materials, can be added to food or water to reduce exposure to harmful mixtures of contaminants following natural disasters and other emergencies. It has been patented and granted a worldwide exclusive license to Texas EnteroSorbents, Inc. for commercialization.

Soil Inversion and Increased Rice Yield
Inverting Soil Decreases Arsenic and Improves Rice Yields
Science Highlights - May 29, 2019

By exchanging high-arsenic soil at the surface with deeper low-arsenic soil, researchers from the Columbia University Superfund Research Program (SRP) have demonstrated increased rice crop yields in Bangladesh. This approach, called soil inversion, increased rice yields 15 - 30 percent compared to plots that were not inverted. The team, led by Alexander van Geen, Ph.D., also reported that arsenic concentrations remained lower over four seasons of monitoring.

Stephanie Eick
Socioeconomic Status Contributes to Arsenic-related Diabetes Risk
Science Highlights - April 17, 2019

A new Superfund Research Program (SRP) study showed that arsenic-exposed Chileans with lower socioeconomic status (SES) were more likely to develop diabetes than those with higher SES. According to the authors, these results suggest that low SES individuals may be more vulnerable to some of the harmful effects of arsenic exposure, such as type 2 diabetes.

CycloPure, Inc.
SRP-Funded Small Business Gears Up to Hit the Shelves
Science Highlights - April 12, 2019

CycloPure, Inc., a small business funded by the Superfund Research Program (SRP), has announced a major advance in its cost-effective water filtration technology called DEXSORB. Its new product, DEXSORB+, works to rapidly remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from contaminated water supplies. PFAS, which have been used in consumer products and aqueous film-forming foams at airports, military installations, and firefighting training sites, do not break down and can accumulate in the environment.

Henry, right, stops to take a photo with Boston SRP Center project leader Jennifer Schlezinger, Ph.D., left, and Boston SRP Center trainee and Wetterhahn Award winner Stephanie Kim, center.
SRP Research Shines at SOT
Science Highlights - April 10, 2019

Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantees from all over the country gathered in Baltimore, Maryland, for the 2019 Society of Toxicology (SOT) Annual Meeting on March 10 – 14. Grantees and staff gave talks and presented posters highlighting SRP-funded research advances in toxicology.

Master plan for the Sunnyside community
Economic Benefits of Green Infrastructure for Vacant Lands
Science Highlights - March 29, 2019

A recent study at the Texas A&M University (TAMU) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center suggests that installing green infrastructure features, such as water-absorbing rain gardens, on vacant lands can provide ecological and economic benefits, particularly in communities with frequent flooding.

Component of Flaxseed Helps Protect Heart Function in Septic Mice
Science Highlights - March 21, 2019

A novel synthetic compound made from flaxseed can protect heart function in mice with sepsis, according to new research in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center. Sepsis is an inflammatory condition that develops in response to infection and can lead to heart failure and death.

Dividing Cells
How High-Fat Diets Drive Colorectal Cancer Growth
Science Highlights - March 19, 2019

New research identifies a pathway that explains how high-fat diets can lead to colorectal cancer, a cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. The new findings may help explain why colorectal cancer rates are increasing in adults under 50 years old and open new possibilities for treating cancer.

Images of cell growth on the MicroColonyChip over time, including 40X magnification. From Cell Reports 2019 26(6):1668-1678.e4. DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.01.053
SRP Grantees Develop a Better Way to Measure Cell Survival
Science Highlights - March 18, 2019

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center recently developed a new test that rapidly measures the effect of different chemicals on cell survival. Measuring cell survival is critical for screening potentially toxic chemicals and protecting human health. The technology was developed as part of an NIEHS small business grant, with partial funding from the MIT SRP Center.

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