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Your Environment. Your Health.

University of Washington

Superfund Research Program

Porphyrin Profiles as Biological Indicators of Trace Metal Exposure and Toxicity

Project Leader: James S. Woods
Grant Number: P42ES004696
Funding Period: 1995 - 2009

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Project Summary (1995-2000)

This project is aimed at validating urinary porphyrin profile measurements as a biomarker of mercury exposure and toxicity. This can then be employed to assess health risks from mercury among people who reside near Superfund hazardous waste sites. The specific goals of the project are to determine individual human variability in urinary porphyrin profiles among unexposed people, and then to demonstrate that persons with mercury exposure have urinary porphyrin measurements that exceed the normal range of variability in a manner that is related to mercury exposure. Using this procedure, we expect that we will be able to predict a person's mercury body burden and also to determine if adverse health effects are likely to be associated with mercury exposure. We expect that the urinary porphyrin profile procedure will also be useful in identifying persons who may not yet be affected but who may nonetheless be at increased risk to toxic effects from mercury exposure at hazardous waste sites.

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