Superfund Research Program
Wildlife Applications to Remediation Decision-Making
Project Leader: Michael J. Hooper (Texas Tech University)
Grant Number: P42ES004696
Funding Period: 1995 - 2006
Project Summary (2000-2006)
Wildlife inhabiting chemically contaminated environments are front line indicators of chemical exposure and chemical effects. As such, they can provide important information useful in waste site remediation decision-making and evaluation. The goal of this project is to develop and characterize tools to evaluate the health of wildlife at the individual, population and community levels. These tools include biomarkers of exposure and effect (both biochemical and analytical chemistry) and mechanistic demographics evaluations. Specific biomarkers under development include porphyrin profiles tied to chelation challenge, metallothionein levels, oxidative stress responses and analyses of chorioallantoic membrane contaminant levels. Each of these is useful in the analysis of exposure and effects of metals and metal mixtures. The mechanistic demographic studies are investigating the underlying mechanisms associated with population and community changes accompanying contamination of study habitats. Both biomarkers and mechanistic demographics will be tested in field studies oriented toward assessing waste-site hazard to wildlife species, testing models of risk, making decisions concerning remediation prioritization and methods selection, and assessing the efficacy of remedial activities. Project investigators are collaborating with the U.S. EPA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife service to develop a framework for inclusion of health and demographics-based wildlife assessments into waste site evaluations and remediation decision-making. A similar approach with the U.S. Air Force is helping to establish a policy for protection of threatened and endangered species that inhabit waste sites under Department of Defense responsibility.