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University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Superfund Research Program

Elucidating Risks: From Exposure and Mechanism to Outcome

Center Director: Rebecca C. Fry
Grant Number: P42ES005948
Funding Period: 1992-2018
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Summary (2011-2018)

The primary objective of the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) is to understand the human health and environmental risks associated with hazardous waste sites, with the goal of more accurately assessing risks and more efficiently remediating hazardous waste sites. Since its inception, the UNC SRP's multidisciplinary research has addressed scientific issues that underpin the assessment of risk to human health and developed improved methods for remediation of hazardous waste sites. In the course of their research, the UNC SRP is focusing on three major classes of chemicals present at Superfund sites: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, halogenated hydrocarbons, and heavy metals, to approach their goal of connecting exposures and mechanisms of action to health outcomes through the following objectives:

  1. developing biomarkers of exposure and effect for human and experimental models of environmental disease over exposure levels ranging from environmental to experimental;
  2. focusing on halogenated hydrocarbons, applying new molecular and analytical tools in a systems biology framework to understand metabolic pathways critical for environmental disease;
  3. focusing on heavy metals, elucidating mechanisms that associate maternal cadmium exposure with poor newborn health outcomes and identifying molecular pathways that underlie susceptibility to metal-induced toxicity;
  4. focusing on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, determining the genetic and metabolic factors contributing to dermal absorption and the relationship of internal dose to total systemic exposure;
  5. using the knowledge gained from these studies to elucidate the modes of action for major chlorinated hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and examining whether modes of action hold constant over the range of likely exposures;
  6. evaluating the extent to which remediation and bioremediation practices result in measurable reductions in toxicity and genotoxicity, and
  7. developing and evaluating remediation methods in complex, field-relevant systems for their potential to reduce overall human exposures and risks.

These objectives are being accomplished through seven diverse but highly interconnected Research Projects, one Research Support Core, a Research Translation Core, and an Administrative Core.

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