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Louisiana State University

Superfund Research Program

Health Impacts of Toxic Combustion By-Products (ARRA Funded)

Center Director: Barry Dellinger
Grant Number: P42ES013648
Funding Period: 2009-2018 and 2020-2025

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Summary (2009-2011)

This program addresses the synergistic interactions of combustion-generated organic pollutants and particles that increase their chemical and biological activity. Program goals include understanding the relationships between the origins, mechanisms of formation, nature of emissions; biological availability; and biological activity of toxic combustion by-products such that:

  1. improved health effects--engineered, thermal treatment technologies can be developed; and
  2. intelligent risk-based decisions can be made concerning on-site versus off-site treatment and thermal versus non-thermal treatment options of Superfund Wastes.

Program research will focus on the origin and health impacts of four classes of pollutants:

  1. combustion generated ultra-fine particles (UFPs),
  2. persistent free radicals (PFRs),
  3. chlorinated hydrocarbons (CHCs), and
  4. brominated hydrocarbons (BHCs).

Combustion generates UFPs or "nanoparticles" with diameters less than 0.1 micron which have been linked to the health impacts of airborne PM2.5. CHCs and BHCs consistently rank among the most significant chemicals of concern at Superfund sites, and their thermal degradation is known to create toxic by-products including polychlorinated and brominated di-benzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans. Research will specifically focus on the role of chemisorptions of CHCs and BHCs on UFPs to form surface-stabilized PFRs that can generate oxidative stress in exposed individuals as well as be key intermediates in the formation of new pollutants. PFRs are a new class of pollutants that may be responsible for some of the observed health impacts of UFPs and have been the subject of unique research by key members of the LSU research team for the past three years. A multidisciplinary team of biomedical, biological, chemical, and engineering researchers, in addition to environmental policy scientists, will address the links between human health impacts of toxic air pollutants and combustion/thermal processing of hazardous wastes. This program is truly interdisciplinary as it has a specific goal of establishing the nature of this link, and as such will require each group of researchers to go beyond their traditionally narrow veins of research and to integrate their understanding. The program consists of three biomedical projects, three non-biomedical projects, four research support cores, an administrative core, a research translation core, a community outreach core, and a training core.

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