Recent News

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.

Superfund Researcher Discovers Promising Method to Assist Vitamin C in Killing Cancer Cells

March 16, 2017

Dr. Garry Buettner, Co-Leader of Project 1 of the Iowa Superfund Research Program, published a report in the December 2016 edition of Redox Biology that demonstrated that high doses of Vitamin C given intravenously are much more effective in killing cancer cells than oral medications of Vitamin C.

Researchers have shown that Vitamin C breaks down easily- creating hydrogen peroxide. Cancer cells have a decreased ability to process hydrogen peroxide. Giving Vitamin C intravenously creates blood levels 100 to 500 times higher of Vitamin C.

Current Superfund Research trainee Visarut Buranasudja and former trainee Claire Doskey assisted with the research.

Miao Li gives KC Donnelly Talk at Superfund Research Program Conference!

December 30, 2016


Miao Li, University of Iowa Superfund Research Program trainee and recent graduate, gave an oral presentation about his KC Donnelly Externship experience at the Superfund Research Program National Conference in Durham, NC. While at the University of Iowa, he investigated the mechanism of toxicity of airborne PCBs through their metabolic activation and the resultant formation of protein adducts.

This project required extremely sensitive detection methods. During the externship in the laboratory of Dr. Nakamura at UC Berkeley, Li had the opportunity to use state-of-the-art techniques and equipment to identify the profile of the target proteins of PCB metabolite reactivity. Publications of the results of this fruitful collaboration are currently in preparation.

Miao is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Kansas State University.

Iowa and BU Superfunds Present at SETAC

December 22, 2016

Dr. Andres Martinez from the University of Iowa Superfund Research Program and Dr. Wendy Heiger-Bernays of the Boston University Superfund Research Program co-presented a session on airborne PCBS at New Bedford Harbor at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry meeting in Orlando in November 2016. Their poster entitled "Continuous release of PCBs from New Bedford Harbor results in elevated concentrations in the surrounding air" documents the result of recent air monitoring and shows that this legacy contamination is still of concern for neighboring communities. New Bedford Harbor is a major source of airborne PCBs.