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Your Environment. Your Health.

University of California-Berkeley

Superfund Research Program

Historical Exposure Assessment

Project Leader: James R. Hunt
Grant Number: P42ES004705
Funding Period: 2000 - 2006

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Project Summary (2000-2006)

Toxic substances associated with particles from a variety of sources accumulate in fresh and saltwater sediments, where they provide long-term exposures to humans and ecosystems. Given the nationwide efforts at industrial source control, contaminant loadings to receiving waters have decreased. Contaminants present within sediments have caused historical exposures, and in some cases, are still responsible for exposures to humans and ecosystems. It is the aim of this research to develop and test a methodology for reconstructing historical exposures to trace metals in estuarine systems in order to identify human disease endpoints that may require 20 to 40 years to materialize. Field studies are planned at two sites that are typical of what is encountered throughout coastal sites in the United States. The goal of this project is to develop and test a methodology for reconstructing historical exposures to trace metals in estuarine systems to anticipated human disease endpoints that may require 20 to 40 years to materialize. Field studies are being conducted at two sites that are typical of what is encountered throughout coastal sites in the United States. Investigations include historical analysis of activities, measuring the depth distribution of contaminants and tracers over the sites, and undertaking hydrodynamic measurements in the water column. These data provide input to a model that predicts the contaminant levels in the near surface sediments for prior years and the associated exposure to humans through fish consumption. This historical exposure assessment and dose reconstruction will combine monitoring data of existing conditions, chemical characterization of the site, and mathematical modeling for predicting historical conditions. This assessment of historical exposures to contaminants in estuarine systems is being used to anticipate health needs for previously exposed humans.

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