Semi-volatile PCBs: Sources, Exposures, Toxicities
The Research Translation Core of the Iowa Superfund Research Program (isrp) is well integrated with the entire program, both thematically and organizationally. Much remains unknown about the volatilization, transport and exposure of lower-halogenated PCBs, especially those associated with contaminated waters, dredging of waterways, and other atmospheric sources, and until recently, governmental bodies have had no impetus for oversight or regulation related to these environmental contaminants.
The major activities of this Core, therefore, are designed to optimize opportunities for translating the findings of the isrp research projects into meaningful outcomes that will benefit the public at large. These outcomes will be translated in a variety of ways to a wide and diverse constituency.
Outcomes from the research conducted under isrp projects will be translated into state-of-the art reports about the risks of PCBs in the environment, which will be published in scientific and/or medical journals for access by the academic research community. The information will also be shared with government agencies so that in the future, policymakers will be better equipped to implement environmental improvement measures. An additional outcome is the germination of new communication between scientists and the lay public on concerns around the presence, effects, and remediation of PCBs in the environment.
Video of the November 18, 2008 visit to isrp laboratories by Columbus Junction 7th graders (two download versions provided):
Investigators will also engage with entities within the public sector, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and representatives of industry with interests in the management of PCB generation and remediation. Finally, several projects and cores, chiefly #4, #6 and the three Research Support Cores, have significant potential for technology innovation and transfer, with the possible development of new inventions, such as measurement models, sampling techniques, exposure generation and control technologies, or the creation of novel PCB mixtures and metabolites.
2007 Legislator Workshop
Environmental Health Issues in the Midwest: A Two-Day Workshop for Midwest State Legislators was held at the Coralville Marriott in Coralville, IA October 21-23, 2007. The overarching goal of the workshop was to translate environmental health research into knowledge that is important to Midwestern legislators. Four environmental health topics most relevant to the scientific mission of the EHSRC and the Iowa Superfund Research Program (isrp), all of which relate to environmental health in the Midwest, were addressed: 1. the environmental effects of Confined Animal Feeding Operations, 2) polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the Great Lakes region 3. the health effects of mercury and its reduction through increased renewable energy production, and 4. radon incidence and mitigation.
The workshop was attended by 10 legislators and four legislative staff members from the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri, four staff members from EPA Regions 5 and 7, eight members of the EHSRC's Community Outreach and Education Stakeholder Advisory Board, three staff from Iowa environmental agencies including the director of the Governor's recently established Iowa Office of Energy Independence, other expert researchers from the University of Iowa, Environmental Health graduate students and other interested participants.
The EHSRC and the isrp co-sponsored the workshop with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). It was organized to have both informational panels and interactive sessions, and the scientific sessions themselves were highly interactive as well.
Contacts established at this meeting have already led to planned outreach opportunities. A new member of the EHSRC External Advisory Panel made contacts with the NCSL which could potentially lead to similar workshops in the Southwest. The Chair of the Iowa House Energy and Environment Committee expressed interest in having several workshop presenters speak to his committee meetings when the legislative session begins in January 2008. Several members of cancer survivor organizations made contacts with EPA Region 7 and with Professor Bill Field of the EHSRC, which have enormous potential for outreach through our center and for the EPA on radon.
Many legislators stated that this workshop gave them new insights into environmental health topics of concern to Midwestern populations. One legislator made the point that these issues are inter-state concerns, and that this forum provided an opportunity to work together as a region on the environmental health issues that are relevant to all of our Midwestern states.
2009 Legislator Workshop
Environment, Health and the Future in the Central USA: A Two-day Workshop for State Legislators took place January 29-31, 2009 at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. The organizers were able to attract 22 legislators and a legislative staff member from six Midwestern states --Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky and Missouri to meet with and learn from scientists from the University of Iowa Superfund Research Program (isrp) and the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center, staff members from EPA Region 5 and the Headquarters in Washington DC, a staff member of the Chicago office of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and a climate change scientist from CDC's National Center for Environmental Health. Several NGOs either spoke or attended. The keynote was presented by the head of the Chicago Mayor’s office of energy.
The overarching goal of the workshop was to translate environmental health research into knowledge that is important to Midwestern legislators. We chose four environmental health topics most relevant to the scientific mission of the isrp and the EHSRC, all of which relate to environmental health in the Midwest:
1. Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and PDBE contamination in the Great Lakes region,
2. Healthy community design, healthy buildings and the renovation of the built environment,
3. Adaptation and mitigation of climate change including responding to floods and stimulating renewable energy production, and
4. Radon incidence and mitigation.
The workshop was designed to have both informational panels and interactive sessions. Legislators had the opportunity to interact with the scientists during their talks, providing a deeper insight into the subject area. The speakers presented their research, with the legislators discussing how this research could assist in developing policy. Non-scientists, speakers from the EPA and NGO speakers also gained the opportunity to discuss their issues, hearing from the legislators how these concerns could be addressed at their statehouses.
The legislators also had the chance to discuss environmental health concerns during the lunch breaks, at the two receptions held and at the dinner on Friday night. Legislators met with their counterparts from other Midwestern states informally regarding the topics they learned about during the summit, how they may be applicable in their states, how their legislature would respond to such research, whether it is warranted to have the speakers testify before their legislative bodies.
In addition, the Federal agencies and NGOs had the opportunity to have display booths set up in the foyer outside the meeting area, to offer legislators further information and insight into the topics discussed.
David Osterberg, MS, Core Leader
Mr. Osterberg is responsible for supervising all aspects of research translation, including monitoring the development of new innovations that arise as a result of isrp research, facilitating the exchange of information and resources to isrp stakeholders, working with the University of Iowa Research Foundation to ensure that the legal and creative interests of the isrp are secured, and identifying potential partners in industry and government.
Mr. Osterberg is also directly involved in the planning of all Core activities and has specific responsibility for liaison work with governmental partners, including local, state, regional and national representatives, Region VII, EPA and others.
Craig Just, PhD, Core Co-leader
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Associate Research Scientist, IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, The University of Iowa.
Peter S. Thorne, PhD, Core Co-leader
Dr. Thorne is directly involved in all Core activities and will take specific responsibility to ensure that this Core is well integrated with all divisions of the Center.