News and Events

  • Isrp Assists in the Community Reporting of Air PCBs

    February 05, 2018

    The Iowa Superfund Research Program, the Boston University Superfund Program (BUSRP), and three community groups formed a partnership of five project leaders to measure the amount of airborne PCBs in the New Bedford Harbor area. The three community groups were the Toxics Action Center, Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE), and the Hands Across the River Coalition (HARC).

    ACE and HARC developed research questions related to New Bedford Harbor and shared these questions with BUSRP. BUSRP engaged researchers at the Iowa Superfund Research Program, who have a long history of studying lower molecular weight PCBs and their sources. HARC’s role was to recruit air monitor hosts interested in New Bedford Harbor environmental health concerns.

    Two workshops were held with monitor hosts so that they could understand the data collected. Monitor hosts worked in pairs with assistance from the Toxic Actions Center and BUSRP to translate the data. The hosts became much more confident in interpreting the data and comparing them to data generated by the EPA. This outreach and cooperation model can be used for other communities impacted by environmental pollutants.

    The complete article describing the results of their cooperation can be found in Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

  • New Study on PCBs in Schools

    February 05, 2018

    Isrp researchers Dr. Keri Hornbuckle and Dr. Peter Thorne were interviewed by numerous newspapers and National Public Radio after the release of their findings of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in schools in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

    The study showed that PCBs are present in older schools and that the source of the PCBs is most likely outdated building materials, such as window caulking and light ballasts.

    The study, which collected indoor and outdoor air samples at six schools in Iowa and Indiana from 2012 to 2015, is the largest yet to examine airborne PCBs in schools. It shows that while the presence of PCBs can vary from school to school and even from classroom to classroom, children’s exposure rates are roughly the same in rural and urban areas.

    It also shows that exposure to PCBs by inhalation may be equal to or higher than exposure through diet, a finding that surprised researchers. Besides PCBs, researchers looked for the first time at OH-PCBs, chemical compounds similar to PCBs, in schools. Although there is still much to learn about OH-PCBs and their potential health risks, some scientists believe they could be more toxic than PCBs.

    Following publication of the article, representatives from the EPA and ATSDR and several community groups in the East Chicago area discussed the findings with staff.

  • Dr. Schnoor Honored at American Chemical Society Meeting

    May 24, 2017

    The University of Iowa Superfund Research Program Project 5 Leader Dr. Jerry Schnoor was honored at the American Chemical Society Annual Meeting(link is external) in San Francisco on April 2nd and April 3rd. Jerry was honored as having had a profound impact on our field, through leadership in environmental chemistry and modeling, shaping policy, and impacting our educational approaches to our most pressing environmental and health challenges. Jerry's contributions have been impactful in many areas of our field, including groundwater modeling and remediation, air pollution issues and climate change.

    The topics that were covered in the two day Tribute to Jerry Schnoor sessions included, but were not limited to, Air modeling: Chemistry and Exposure; Environmental modeling, pollutant transport; Phytoremediation: Plant-mediated Chemistry; Nanoparticle environmental transport and fate.

    In the above picture Dr. Schnoor(middle) is surrounded by many of the colleagues that honored him, including Dr. Heather Henry (third from right) from the NIEHS Superfund Research Program.

  • Engineering Students Learn About PCBs

    May 22, 2017

    On April 27, 2017, Dr. Rachel Marek from Project 4 gave a guest lecture at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Prof. Anne Alexander's Fundamentals of Environmental Chemistry class, an elective of 24 juniors and seniors. She introduced students to PCBs and why we are concerned about their presence in schools. Students built molecules of PCB 11 and PCB 52, two PCBs that are prominent in school air due to paint and legacy Aroclors. They talked about partitioning coefficients and what that means for their volatilization.

    Dr. Marek described the extensive field sampling campaign, lab methods, and quality control analysis for PCBs in school air. The students compared congener profiles of the school air with potential Aroclor and paint source profiles to determine the main identifiable source (specific Aroclor and/or pigment) of PCBs in that school. The students used historical Aroclor information to determine where in the school the Aroclors were likely present (light ballast, caulking, floor adhesive).


  • Hornbuckle and Martinez Present to EPA

    May 22, 2017

    The Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the EPA sought comments this spring on the dredging of the Indiana Harbor Shipping Canal (IHSC). The United States Army Corps of Engineers(USACE) has overseen the removal of more than 1 million cubic yards of sediment as part of the IHSC dredging project that started in 2012.

    Dr. Kerri Hornbuckle and Dr. Andres Martinez commented on the request for approval of PCB alternative disposals. The specific approval was to move 60,000 cubic yards of sediment in the canal that contains a PCB concentration greater than 50 parts per million to a confined disposal facility. Dr. Hornbuckle and Dr. Martinez had concerns about the additional release of PCBs from contaminated sediments and requested studies of the emissions of airborne PCBs from the confined disposal facility.

    The picture above is courtesy of the Times of Northwest Indiana.



  • Junior High Students Learn About PCBs

    May 22, 2017

    Seventh graders from the Columbus Junction High School in Iowa visited the Iowa Superfund Research Program at the University of Iowa for a 1 day field trip. The 46 students rotated in groups through five research stations where they observed and even had some hands-on experience in PCB analysis and retention, microscopy and animal exposure by aerosol inhalation. They also watched the necropsy of a mouse, which provided them with literally deeper insight into the biological effects of environmental contaminants.

    During lunch they had a chance to express their impressions and new attitude towards research. Students and staff from project 1, 6, 7, the Community Engagement, Training, Research Translation, Synthesis, and Administration Core helped with the event.


  • SOT Awards

    May 22, 2017

    Several isrp faculty and trainees received awards at the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting and ToxExpo. Gadupudi GS, Klaren WD, Olivier AK, Klingelhutz AJ, Robertson LW. (2016) Diminished Phosphorylation of CREB Is a Key Event in the Dysregulation of Gluconeogenesis, Glycogenolysis and Fatty acid oxidation in PCB126 Hepatotoxicity won two distinctions: He and the poster was the Recipient of Honorable Mention Perry Gehring Student Award Risk Assessment Specialty Section, Society of Toxicology and Honorable Mention Robert J. Rubin Student Travel Award Risk Assessment Specialty Section, Society of Toxicology. In addition, his mentor Dr. Larry Robertson was awarded mentor awards from these two distinctions.

    Former trainee Dr. Fabian Grimm, now doing a postdoc at Texas A and M University, received 2 awards: Best Postdoctoral Publication Award and Syngenta Fellowship Award in Human Health Applications of New Technologies. Finally, trainee Eric Uwimana was elected to serve as the Graduate Student Representative for the Central States chapter of the Society of Toxicology.


  • Presentations at National Society of Toxicocology Meeting

    May 22, 2017

    ISRP investigators and trainees presented posters at the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting and ToxEpo in Baltimore, Maryland in March 2017. Posters included:

    Co-Exposure to Lead (Pb) and PCB95 or PCB153 Changes Dopamine Levels and Turn-Over in Pc12 Cells by S.H. Enayah, B. Vanle, L. Fuortes, and G. Ludewig

    Low-Level Arsenic Exposure from Drinking Water and Prostate Cancer in Iowa by T. Roh, C. Lynch, P. Weyer, K. Wang, and G. Ludewig, P166 In Vitro Cytotoxic Effects of PCB Derivatives on Intestinal Epithelium. N. Metwali by X. Hu, H. Lehmler, A. Metwali, M.W. Duffel, G.R. Buettner, and P.S. Thorne

    P233 Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion of Intratracheally Instilled 14C-labeled PCB28 by N. Brandon, A. Adamcakova-Dodd, and P.S. Thorne

    P238 Assessment of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) Levels in Serum from Iowa Construction Workers by S. Flor, S.H. Enayah, R.F. Marek, K.C. Hornbuckle, D.L. Simmons, B.R. Wels, K.M. Kelly, L.J. Fuortes, and G. Ludewig

    P324 Diminished Phosphorylation of CREB Is a Key Event in the Dysregulation of Gluconeogenesis, Glycogenolysis, and Fatty Acid Oxidation in PCB126 Hepatotoxicity. G.S. Gadupudi, W.D. Klaren, A.K. Olivier, A.J. Klingelhutz, and L.W. Robertson

    P525, Enantioselective Metabolism of 2,2',3,4',6-Pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB 91) by Human Liver Microsomes, E. Uwimana, H. Lehmler.

    Faculty listed on other poster board sessions included: P524 Species and Sex Differences in the Morphogenic Response of Primary Neurons to 3,3'-Dichlorobiphenyl (PCB 11). S. Sethi, K.P. Keil, X. Li, H.-J.Lehmler, and P.J. Lein and P305, Polychlorinated Biphenyls Target Notch/Dll4 and VEGFR2 in the Mouse Placenta and Human Trophoblast Cell Lines for Their Anti-Angiogenic Effects, S. Kalkunte, Z. Huang, E. Lippe, S. Kumar, L. W. Robertson, S. Sharma.

  • Support for the Superfund Research Program Urged

    March 16, 2017

    Researchers from 3 Superfund Research Programs(SRPs) argued for continued funding for the programs in an op-ed piece in the Hill on March 14, 2017.

    While most programs in the NIH received incresed funding over the past few years, the Superfund Research Program's funding has decreased. The SRP budget is actually contained in the Interior Department appropriations. The authors are arguing for funds to be increased back to the levels in 2006.

    Increasing funds will support public and private universities and small businesses acros 35 states and will continue the SRP track record of creating jobs by developing technology and techniques that improve the environment and public health.

    Congressional Appropriation Subcommittees will begin working on their recommendations in April and May.

  • Researchers Show Airborne PCBs coming from New Bedford Harbor

    March 16, 2017

    Researchers from the University of Iowa Superfund Research Program and the Boston University Research Program published a report demonstrating that release of PCBs from New Bedford Harbor contribute to elevated concentrations in the surrounding air.

    The authors noted there was much higher concentrations of PCBs close to the shoreline.These measurements were reproducible. They also found that the profiles of PCB congeners in the air samples are remarkably similar, and also similar to those of the commercial mixtures Aroclor 1016 and Aroclor 1242. They also found that their predicted and measured air concentrations exhibited similar ranges of values and similar spatial distributions, both decreasing in magnitude with distance.

    This is the first study to show that a PCB-contaminated waterway is responsible for the nearby
    measured PCBs.