Upcoming Event: The State of the Water: Linking Ocean Health to Human Health

This is the ninth call in a series organized in partnership with the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), a partner of our Research Translation Core.  The calls feature research by investigators associated with Superfund Research Programs across the country. The next call will take place Thursday January 8, 2015 at 10:00 am Pacific / 1:00 pm Eastern.

On this call on CHE and BU SRP will explore the research and the questions related to the intersection of ocean health and human health. Dr. John Stegeman of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the BU SRP and Dr. Isaac Pessah of the UC Davis SRP will discuss their research. Dr. Lora Fleming of Exeter Medical School will then provide a medical and European perspective.  

RSVP for the call here!

About the call:
The health of the world's oceans are impacted by variety of factors, including runoff from toxins used in manufacturing and agricultural practices, climate change, and inproperly disposed of pharmacueticals. Warming ocean temperatures are resulting in ocean acidification, marine and freshwater species demise, and dangerous algae blooms. The exposure of marine and freshwater wildlife to toxins is causing mutations and epidemiological changes which may serve as an important lesson for the future of human health. What does the science about ocean health tell us about our own health? What are the most pressing environmental health concerns related to the oceans' health? What might environmental health scientists, researchers, and policy makers do to address these pressing issues?


Congratulations MA EJ Alliance & ACE on the historic signing of the Executive Order on Environmental Justice!

On November 25, 2014, Governor Patrick signed the Massachusetts Executive Order on Environmental Justice (EO) at the Chelsea Collaborative. The Governor’s Executive Order on Environmental Justice illustrates an important milestone in the EJ movement, made possible by the tireless work of grassroots organizations and allies in the Massachusetts Environmental Justice Alliance (MA EJ Alliance), and convened by Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), a BU SRP Community Engagement Core partner. The EO will provide the momentum necessary for all state agencies to devote additional resources to ensure an equal distribution of environmental goods such as increased green space, well-paying safe jobs, clean air and water, and healthy and energy efficient buildings and to reduce burdens such as poor air quality and contaminated lands that can cause poor health. The EO builds off the 2002 EJ Policy, which is still in effect and is scheduled to be reviewed and updated in early 2015. The EO applies to all state agencies, unlike the EJ Policy, which only applies to the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. As part of each state agency’s EJ strategy, the EO calls for applicable agencies to review their policies in three areas:

1. the authority of the agency to regulate or permit development, brownfield, industrial and commercial projects that might affect EJ populations
2. economic development projects, environmental benefits and other discretionary funding programs that might benefit EJ populations, and
3. an enhanced public participation process for EJ populations potentially affected by development, brownfields, industrial and commercial projects.

After five years of meetings, listening sessions with state and federal government officials, and direct negotiation with the Patrick Administration, congratulations to ACE and the 20 grassroots groups and allies from around the state that MA EJ Alliance brings together on the victory to increase environmental benefits and reduce environmental burdens in the state!


BU & UK SRPs Collaborate on TCE Seminar for Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection

On October 29, 2014, Dr. Wendy Heiger-Bernays of Boston University’s Superfund Research Program gave a seminar entitled, Derivation of TCE Toxicity Values and Implications for Risk Management, to the Kentucky Energy and Environmental Cabinet, Department of Environmental Protection (KYDEP).  The seminar, which was part of the University of Kentucky Superfund Research Center’s (UK-SRC’s) monthly seminar series for state agency regulatory staff, focused on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) 2011 Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Final Assessment for trichloroethylene (TCE).  The seminar also highlighted relevant TCE exposure scenarios for vapor intrusion sites.  In addition to the formal seminar, Dr. Heiger-Bernays and Dr. Kelly Pennell (of the University of Kentucky Superfund Research Center) met with state agency staff and discussed various strategies for addressing TCE in indoor air at vapor intrusion sites. Dr. Pennell had previously presented vapor intrusion seminars to KYDEP (February 2014 and March 2010).  Following those seminars, KYDEP specifically asked for more information on TCE toxicity values, to which Dr. Heiger-Bernays’ seminar responded.

TCE is a common contaminant in groundwater in the United States and countries where this degreasing agent was and is used.  In addition to exposures that occur through contact with contaminated water, vapor intrusion results in inhalation of TCE in residential and commercial buildings. EPA IRIS provides an oral cancer slope factor and inhalation unit risk value, but the non-cancer effects are of particular interest because toxicological studies have shown developmental effects at very low doses for short durations in susceptible populations (i.e. near or below chronic levels). As a result, the non-cancer risk assessment is currently the determinant in the management of many TCE-contaminated environments. Regulatory agencies across the country are challenged with addressing these short-term exposure risks, while continuing to protect against chronic exposures. To date, few states have established final guidance about how to manage TCE inhalation acute exposure risks. Management scenarios range from ventilation to home evacuation. As a member of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Waste Site Clean-Up Advisory Committee, Dr. Heiger-Bernays discussed with KYDEP approaches being used by Massachusetts and other states for managing inhalation exposure risks of TCE at vapor intrusion sites.


Trainees Attend 2014 SRP Annual Meeting

The SRP Annual Meeting was held in San Jose, CA from November 12th to 14th. The meeting brings together researchers, trainees, and administrators supported by the program, representatives from partner agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and other interested individuals to discuss new research, technology, communication, and community engagement in critical areas related to the SRP mission. BU SRP trainees Kate Crawford, Mariam Girguis, Daniel GusenleitnerOlga Novikov, and James Watt participated in the poster sessions on November 12th and 13th. Thank you UC Berkeley SRP for hosting a fabulous meeting!

Affiliated Institutions

The Superfund Research Program at Boston University

Supported with funding from the
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' Superfund Research Program

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