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Research Project 6

 Characterization of Exposures of Urban and Rural Cohorts to Airborne PCBs

The AESOP Study (Airborne Exposures to Semi-volatile Organic Pollutants) has assessed exposures and body burdens of atmospheric PCBs among an urban cohort of children and their mothers in an area contaminated with legacy pollutants and where dredging and filling of PCB-laden sediments is now underway.

The AESOP Study seeks to answer key questions about what are the determinants of PCB exposures among children and their mothers, what are the exposure levels indoors and out, and how can we best monitor exposures and metabolites.

The AESOP Study has enrolled and followed 315 subjects and provided new insight into airborne exposures and resulting body burdens. It has changed prevailing views on how most Americans are exposed to PCBs. We have demonstrated that our subjects have substantial exposure to PCB congeners from inhalation in addition to ingestion and their blood shoes enrichment with lower-chlorinated congeners. This had important implications for children's environmental health.

Project Leader: Peter S. Thorne, PhD

Dr. Thorne is a professor of toxicology in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa with a secondary appointment in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He will serve as a principal investigator for this study. He has worked successfully with the community advisory boards and schools in Columbus Junction and East Chicago, and will oversee the enrollment of the cohorts for the project.

Keri C. Hornbuckle, PhD
Dr. Hornbuckle, professor of environmental engineering at the University of Iowa, will provide advice on fabrication and deployment of the passive monitors and high volume samplers, and she will provide guidance in the analysis of PCB congener-specific data. Her experience in measuring and modeling PCBs in urban and rural settings will be drawn upon in the interpretation of exposure data.

Michael Jones, PhD
Dr. Jones is a Professor of Biostatistics and has extensive experience developing and using statistical methods for the analysis of multiple PCB-congener measures, many of which fall below the limit of quantification resulting in left censored data.

Research Projects

  • Where are sources of airborne PCBs?
  • What are the levels of human exposures to these types of PCBs?
  • What are the potential roles of metabolism in biological responses to semi-volatile PCBs?
  • What are the human health effects?
  • How can we remediate PCB contaminated sites?

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