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University of Iowa

Superfund Research Program

Semi-volatile PCBs: Sources, Exposures, Toxicities

Center Director: Keri C. Hornbuckle
Grant Number: P42ES013661
Funding Period: 2006-2025
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Summary (2015-2020)

The Superfund Research Program at The University of Iowa (isrp) is a joint endeavor involving basic, mechanistic, and applied research projects in biomedical and environmental research areas addressing semivolatile polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The overall goal of the isrp is to identify atmospheric sources, exposures, and potential consequences to human health of semi-volatile PCBs. To achieve this goal, the isrp addresses volatilization, transport, and resultant exposure of lower halogenated PCBs, especially those PCBs that are associated with contaminated waters, former industrial sites, and buildings (especially school buildings). The isrp plans to identify routes of exposure with an eye to preventing or limiting exposure and ameliorating the effects. The isrp brings together 17 scientists, representing seven departments in five colleges, and two universities. Working together, they will measure sources, transport, and environmental exposure of PCBs (The Atmospheric Sources of PCB Congeners and Airborne Exposures to Semi-volatile Organic Pollutants (The AESOP Study) projects); their distribution, metabolism and toxicity in animals and humans (the PCBs: Metabolism, Genotoxicity and Gene Expression in vivo , PCBs and Cytosolic Phenol and Steroid Sulfotransferases , and Assessment of Toxicity and Risk of Inhaled Environmental PCB Mixtures projects); and novel methods of phytoremediation (the Phytoremediation to Degrade Airborne PCB Congeners from Soil and Groundwater Sources project).

Ongoing studies include a community-based participatory research project-an assessment of exposures to citizens who live or work in the vicinity of sources of lower chlorinated PCBs in the Chicago Metropolitan area. The isrp enjoys the cooperation of citizen groups in Chicago, Illinois and East Chicago, Indiana where many ethnic minority citizens are living below the poverty line near deindustrialized sites. The research projects and overall efficiency are supported by six cores, which assist the projects in coordination, information transfer, design and analysis of experiments, and assessment of research. The Synthesis Core synthesizes all compounds/mixtures to be studied, while the Analytical Core provides critical compositional information from metabolism to movement. Community Engagement and Research Translation Cores transmit research findings to a variety of stakeholders and involve those stakeholders in research activities. A Training Core and the research projects provide for the training of 16 students and postdoctoral scholars each year (70 have been trained in the previous funding period). The assessment and evaluation process culminates in an annual meeting of an 8-member External Advisory Committee. Overall this multidisciplinary program brings a broad range of experience and expertise, and institutional resources, to bear on problems associated with Superfund chemicals that are critical to the Midwest and the nation.

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