Superfund Research Program
Final Progress Reports
The focus of the Louisiana State University (LSU) Superfund Research Center is to examine the generation, toxic effects, and remediation of environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs), a novel and emerging class of pollutants that is by its very nature a complex mixture of toxic organics, metals, and mineral substrates. EPFRs are found in significant concentrations in soils at Superfund sites and are also generated during thermal remediation and containment processing at these sites. As a new class of compounds, it is under-studied, likely to be an important contaminant at virtually every Superfund site, and a unique component of the NIEHS portfolio. During the research team's funding period, they demonstrated that:
- Some Superfund treatment alternatives create more EPFRs than others and may present a greater risk to people living near Superfund treatment sites,
- There are significant risks to exposed individuals primarily through pulmonary and cardiovascular mechanisms, and
- There may be alternative remediation methods that reduce this risk. Their data are changing the way pollutants are perceived and studied, and on a small scale they have changed how Superfund sites are remediated (e.g., Camp Minden).
Despite these accomplishments, the mechanism of toxicity and the breadth of the toxic effects due to EPFRs with different chemical and metal compositions remain under-studied. The Center's studies highlight the need to assess the human health and environmental risk from EPFR exposure, to characterize chemically the essential features of EPFRS, to identify the components that are most likely to lead to toxicity, and to suggest better strategies for their remediation.