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Your Environment. Your Health.

University of California-Davis

Superfund Research Program

Epidemiology Studies

Project Leader: Ellen B. Gold
Grant Number: P42ES004699
Funding Period: 2000-2010

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Project Summary (2005-2010)

The Epidemiologic Studies project provides evaluation of human health effects associated with exposure to environmental contaminants in residents adjacent to a Superfund site in Sacramento, California by evaluating physiologic dysfunction. Specifically, reproductive and other hormone-related health effects are being ascertained in women residing downwind or in the groundwater plume of the Sacramento Superfund site. These rates of health effects are being compared to those in a similar, non-exposed nearby sample of women, and these rates are also being related to likelihood of exposure. In addition to interviewing women residing in these areas and in a comparison area, the researchers are using serum and urine biomarkers of exposure and of health outcomes that have been developed in UC Davis laboratories. Thus far, this project has screened over 850 women for eligibility in the three study areas and has interviewed and assayed blood and urine from over 350 eligible women in the three areas. The three study areas appear comparable on a number of sociodemographic indicators, as well as on general community and women's health concerns (none of the top 5 of which include the Superfund site or endocrine/reproductive concerns, respectively). Further, the team has observed no notable differences in thyroid hormone levels among the three study areas, as expected, since the relevant exposure that might have affected thyroid function ended in 1996, and no prolonged adverse effect on the thyroid would be expected. The researchers have detected no evidence of environmental estrogens in any of the samples tested thus far (n=250). Some observed differences in reproductive health effects are suggestive, but further analyses with additional data are required to determine any differences in health effects that might have occurred during the times of likely exposure. Applications of epidemiologic techniques in this project not only facilitate applications of the biomarkers in humans in the exposed population and assessment of the relation of exposure to environmental contaminants to human health effects, but also illuminate modification of these effects by host and lifestyle factors. In turn, this project contributes to the other projects by providing epidemiologic expertise for developing further field applications of techniques developed in the UCD laboratories in the future. In this effort, this project is highly dependent on the various analytic projects, such as the Fate and Transport Project and Reproductive Biomarkers Project, as well as the Statistical Core to evaluate exposures to endocrine disrupters as a result of residing downwind or in the groundwater plume of a Superfund site, to assess the likely routes of exposure, and to assess the relation of such exposures to adverse reproductive and other endocrine health effects.

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