e•Bulletin: 2011 - Issue 1

Agency Seminar Series | Investigator Profile | Community Partners | Collaborations



Welcome to the University of Washington's Superfund Research Program (UW-SRP) new e*bulletin! Each quarter we will offer a few snapshots highlighting some our program's recent work as well as providing links to interesting upcoming talks and events. Our Principal Investigator, Dr. Harvey Checkoway, and Research Core Director, Dr. Tom Burbacher invite you to please read and enjoy the stories that catch your eye.

 

Agency Seminar Series

Agency Seminar Series

In June of this year, Dr. Paul Johnson from the University of Arizona shared his research on temporal changes in vapor intrusion (VI) behavior and the implications this has for conventional pathway assessment paradigms. Dr. Johnson's presentation focused on an ongoing study involving high temporal resolution monitoring of a home residence overlying a low concentration (10-30 ug/L) dissolved chlorinated solvent plume; his findings revealed that behavior not previously conceptualized in creating guidance for VI pathway were present. A pdf of slides from Dr. Johnson's talk can be found here.

The UW-SRP sponsors regular seminars held in Seattle at the regional EPA headquarters (remote connection to upcoming seminars is also available.) The seminars are directed toward an audience of agency staff involved with risk assessment and communication at Superfund sites, such as EPA Region 10 and the Washington State Departments of Health and Ecology. Topic requests come from our agency partners - the series provides a forum for intra-agency discussions with scientists about current research and applications of the science. For more information on upcoming seminars click here.

 

Investigator Profile

Gallagher

Understanding how the environment can impact regional salmon survival is central to Dr. Evan Gallagher's research. One goal of his Superfund Research Program - Biotransformation Gene-environment Interactions in Salmon Neurotoxicity - is to understand how Superfund-identified chemicals interfere with the olfactory behavior of Coho salmon, an ecologically important species in the Pacific Northwest. Previous studies by NOAA researchers have shown that chemical 'injuries' to the olfactory system of salmon can impact key neurologically-controlled behaviors such as the ability to detect predators and prey as well as homing to native streams. Based on these observations, Dr. Gallagher's laboratory is investigating the mechanisms of how chemical exposures affect olfactory processes at the cellular level. His work is also generating molecular "biomarkers" of olfactory injury that can ultimately be used to evaluate areas of concern in the remediation of Superfund sites and also to assess the effects of cleanup processes.

In addition to addressing the mechanisms of olfactory toxicity, another segment of Dr. Gallagher's research explores the ability of salmon to mount a protective olfactory system detoxification response during chemical exposures, and also trying to better understand the ramifications of exposures to mixtures of olfactory toxicants. Zebrafish, a well-defined genetic small fish laboratory model, are being used to better understand the mechanisms of olfactory injury of relevance to Pacific salmon. In the past year, new collaborations with salmon disease experts at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) are investigating the interplay between olfactory injury and immune suppression by cadmium, a model Superfund chemical of interest. Collectively, these studies in an ecologically relevant species (i.e. Coho salmon) while also using a small laboratory model (i.e. zebrafish) are uncovering how chemical exposures relevant to Superfund sites may affect the fitness and survival of Pacific salmon. The results of this research can help answer questions for agencies, fish managers, and scientists by providing a better grasp of how low-level chemical exposures may affect salmon survival.

 

Community Partners

DRCC/TAG

The Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/Technical Advisory Group (DRCC/TAG) is a non-profit organization in the city of Seattle formed in response to the listing of the Lower Duwamish Waterway as a federal Superfund site. The coalition is EPA's official Community Advisory Group (CAG) and receives EPA funding to contract with independent technical advisors to review all cleanup-related studies and plans. DRCC/TAG is involved in all aspects of the proposed cleanup and is working to ensure that the cleanup meets community standards.

Last month DRCC/TAG launched the Duwamish Valley Healthy Communities Project. The project will convene residents, businesses, workers, social service providers, government agencies, and non-profit organizations to identify, prioritize and develop action plans for a wide range of threats to the community's health. The project is designed to engage the entire community, regardless of language, income, education level, and other traditional barriers to public involvement. It is based on a consensus approach to problem-solving that aims to bridge the interests of residents, businesses, health workers, and environmental advocates in order to develop effective, tangible strategies to improve the community's health.

To learn more about the Duwamish Valley Health Communities Project, please click here.

The UW-Research Translation Core (RTC) has a longstanding relationship with the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/TAG that provides a diverse Seattle community with important information on the Superfund site and its cleanup. Over the years the RTC has provided funds to support public boat tours and environmental justice materials development, and has invited youth engaged in cleanup efforts to the University of Washington campus for laboratory tours. Effective communication is one of the hallmarks of DRCC/TAG; they have co-presented at EPA conferences with the UW-SRP in recent years.

(photo credit: Paul Joseph Brown, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

 

Collaborations

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In May of this year the University of Washington Superfund Program (UW-SRP) hosted a regional meeting with the Northwest Toxic Communities Coalition (NWTCC) and EPA Region 10 Administrator (RA), Dennis McLerran and his staff. The UW-SRP Research Translation Core's director and staff have been a part of a series of regular discussions between the coalition and EPA staff on targeted topics that began in fall of 2010.

The coalition represents over twenty-five community organizations whose focus includes hazardous waste concerns from the four states of EPA Region 10. This year the annual summit of the NWTCC at the University of Washington offered a venue for the regional administrator to meet again with the NWTCC. This important and significant meeting resulted in plans made to continue collaboration on key points that include organizing an educational workshop for impacted communities on air pollution issues.

The two-day summit included a viewing of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council documentary We Live by the River - told in the voices of the people of the Yukon. It also featured content sessions on biomass-energy source and related environmental health; legal and economic issues; and regional updates on fish consumption rates from Oregon and Washington.

The community-academic partnership, between the coalition and the UW-SRP, is in its seventh year. Northwest Toxic Communities Coalition was formed with a mission to connect with and empower communities impacted by toxic waste and to share resources, information, and support for toxic cleanup efforts throughout the Northwest states. Coalition members come from Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington states.

(In the above photo, left to right: UW-SRP - Tom Burbacher, EPA - Dennis McLerran, NWTCC - John Shaw)

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