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University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Superfund Research Program

Environmental Exposure and Effect of Hazardous Chemicals

Center Director: James A. Swenberg
Grant Number: P42ES005948
Funding Period: 1992-2018

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Summary (2000-2006)

The theme of the Superfund Basic Research Program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is to develop the scientific bases that are necessary to generate biologically based risk assessments for several chemicals on the National Priorities List. This program began in 1992 and is comprised of seven integrated research projects (3 biomedical, 4 non-biomedical), three research support cores (chemical and analytical, molecular epidemiology, and mathematical, statistical and modeling), and administrative, training, and outreach cores. Program goals are being accomplished by: (1) identifying critical mechanisms related to induction of mutations and cancer; (2) establishing dose-response relationships for these mechanisms; (3) using ultra-sensitive biomarkers and development of personal monitoring devices to examine factors related to human exposure; (4) identifying sensitive populations to assess if they are at greater or lesser risk than the general population to selected chemicals; (5) developing new methods for determining dermal exposure; (6) studying the degradation and fate of chemicals and determining relative toxicity compared to starting materials; (7) evaluating mass transfer phenomena in heterogeneous multi-phase subsurface systems; and (8) using stochastic analysis of flow and transport phenomena to provide estimates of human and ecological exposure to contaminants. Vinyl chloride (VC), pentachlorophenol (PCP), benzene, 2,6 dinitrophenol (DNT), 1,1,2-trichloroethylene, 1,1,2,2 tetrachloroethylene, 1,1,2 trichloroethane, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, and selected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been selected for study due to widespread potential for human exposure. Two of the biomedical projects concentrate on development and application of DNA or protein adducts as biomarkers of exposure or effective dose. A common mechanism of these two projects is the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The non-biomedical projects focus on the kinetics of bacterial degradation of high molecular weight PAHs, the fate of degraded PAHs in the soil, and developing estimates of human and ecological exposure to contaminants, especially non-aqueous phase liquids.

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