Superfund Research Program
Developing and Evaluating Technology to Measure PAH Fate and Exposures
Project Leader: Kim A. Anderson
Grant Number: P42ES016465
Funding Period: 2009-2025
Project Summary (2020-2025)
Superfund site managers lack information that would allow them to select the most environmentally sound and cost-effective remediation strategies. To make a balanced decision, they must understand the behavior of the entire system: they need to know how toxic chemicals move into and out of the site, as well as when and where those chemicals move. This project aims to discover the fate of bioavailable PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon), utilizing passive sampling device (PSD) technology, to assess bioavailable PAH flux between environmental compartments. Kim Anderson, Ph.D., and her team, propose to develop generalizable technology to measure the movement (flux) of PAHs into and out of Superfund sites. To do this the research team will determine how PAH movement varies with the seasons and tides and will quantify the net movement of PAHs into the local environments via diffusive and advective flux in waters at different locations, at different times of the day, and in different seasons of the year. The following hypotheses will be tested: (1) The mass of bioavailable PAH movement between Superfund sediment-water and water-atmosphere interfaces varies as a function of location, season and tide and (2) The advective flux of bioavailable PAHs represents a significant fraction of the total PAH flux. The first methods will be delivered to concurrently quantify spatial and temporal movement of bioavailable PAHs to and from a Superfund site from sediment, water, and air. These methods will help EPA, remediators, and site managers to prioritize sites for remediation, optimize remediation strategies for their sites, and evaluate the effectiveness of those strategies. The research team proposes to conduct the first passive sampling wristband measurements of external exposure to PAHs for people near Superfund sites. This will give stakeholders and communities a quantitative understanding of people’s external exposure and its dependence on distance, geographic factors, housing, and personal characteristics. The team will also test external exposure to PAHs for the same individuals after remediation. The following hypotheses are proposed to be tested: (3) In communities near Superfund sites, the magnitude of people’s external wristband measured exposure depends on their distance to the site, their housing characteristics, and their time-activity patterns; and (4) Remediation of a Superfund site will diminish the community’s external exposure to PAHs. The team will also convey real-world chemical mixtures from the wristbands to center researchers, who will test the toxicity of the bioavailable mixtures in the zebrafish model and in human lung cell cultures, and will collaborate with them in effects-directed analyses to identify toxic components of the mixtures. In collaboration with the RT and CEC teams, this project team will describe to stakeholders and communities a) how external exposure to PAH mixtures varies as a function of location near a Superfund site, b) which components of the mixtures, if any, may threaten human health, and c) how remediation of a Superfund site influences the local community’s external exposure to PAHs.