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Texas A&M University

Superfund Research Program

Disaster Research Response (DR2) Core

Project Leader: Thomas J. McDonald
Grant Number: P42ES027704
Funding Period: 2022-2027
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Project Summary (2022-2027)

The overall theme of the Texas A&M University Superfund Research Center is to develop, apply, and translate a comprehensive set of tools and models that will aid in mitigating the human health consequences of exposure to hazardous mixtures during environmental emergency-related contamination events. Previously, the center responded to several disasters to collect samples and respond to concerns from community partners, non-governmental organizations, and local and state agencies. Activities included sampling of water, sediment, and soils in response to Hurricane Harvey (2017), Hurricane Florence (2018), and the large-scale industrial fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) facility (2019). Sampling was conducted to establish both spatial and temporal dimensions of the extent of re-distribution of hazardous substances in the environment that may impact human health. While several of the Texas A&M University Superfund Research Center’s projects and cores have contributed to these efforts and provided sampling supplies, field personnel, training, and quality assurance/control (QA/QC) documentation, the team now has a dedicated service core for these activities.

This DR2 Core supports the center, and the rigor and reproducibility of its DR2 activities, by ensuring the center’s ability to respond to disasters through creation of a centralized resource to support DR2 infrastructure, methods, supplies, and training. The central hypothesis of the DR2 Core is that the rigor and reproducibility of DR2 activities will be ensured and the center’s ability to respond to future disasters with translational research will be improved by creating a centralized resource and infrastructure to support disaster research response encompassing environmental assessment capabilities that can be rapidly deployed anywhere. The DR2 Core responds to Superfund mandate three — the development of methods and technologies to detect hazardous substances in the environment — and focuses on four specific aims. First, the DR2 Core maintains sampling supplies, field and laboratory equipment, and instrumentation required for collection of environmental samples during and after disasters. Second, the DR2 Core coordinates collection, processing, and storage of environmental samples. Third, this core facilitates DR2 activities by the projects and cores and integrates with NIH DR2 programs. Finally, the DR2 Core ensures that center personnel can conduct fieldwork safely and properly for baseline sampling and in response to disasters. Overall, the efforts of the DR2 Core specifically enhance interactions among center projects and other cores, increasing their impact by ensuring alignment of measured/human/test system exposures from real-life environmental samples and increasing the translation of basic science in decision-making, translation, and community engagement.

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