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Duke University

Superfund Research Program

Analytical Chemistry Core

Project Leader: P. Lee Ferguson
Co-Investigators: Heather M. Stapleton, Heileen Hsu-Kim
Grant Number: P42ES010356
Funding Period: 2011-2022

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Project Summary (2017-2022)

The Duke University Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center examines the problem of early life exposure to hazardous chemicals and later life consequences. The overall function of the Analytical Chemistry Core (ACC) is to provide routine sample analysis and monitoring of Superfund-relevant contaminants for research projects within the Duke SRP Center. Furthermore, the ACC provides analytical expertise in identifying transformation products and/or metabolites of these Superfund contaminants using high-resolution mass spectrometry techniques. The ACC is an essential component of the Duke SRP Center and has generated a large quantity of data in support of the research activities of all Duke SRP Center projects. Quantitative analyses have centered on determining brominated and alternative flame retardants, organophosphate pesticides (and their transformation products), and PAHs in a variety of biological and environmental samples at trace (ppb or lower) levels.

In addition to the routine quantitative analysis work performed in support of the Duke SRP Center research projects, ACC staff have been actively involved in method development activities as new analytes and sample types have been introduced into the projects. Examples include analysis of tetrabromobisphenol A and its debromination products in biosolids, and 1,2- bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane in cell culture media. Progress has been made in applying high-resolution mass spectrometry and other methods for non-targeted and effects-directed analysis of novel contaminants and transformation products of Superfund-relevant chemicals in environmental and biological media.

The researchers are extending the activities of the ACC, with an expanded focus on targeted analysis of developmental organic toxicants including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, organophosphate pesticides and aryl organophosphate esters, halogenated aromatics and phenolics, and alternative flame retardants in biological and environmental samples, in support of all Duke SRP Center projects. This is accomplished using established protocols and existing instrumentation (e.g., GC-MS and LC-MS/MS) with experienced operators. In addition, the researchers are increasing the role for non-targeted and transformation product analysis using high resolution mass spectrometry instrumentation coupled to novel data analysis strategies. The ACC continues to act as a training and consulting service for analytical chemistry within the SRP Center. Finally, their expertise in analytical method development will be brought to bear on new and emerging contaminants identified as important for investigation within the SRP Center research projects. These activities draw on their considerable success to date in developing, validating, and applying methods for contaminant analysis in environmental and biological samples.

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