News & Updates

EBRG Alumna Dr. Courtney Carignan talks to EHP about TDCPP

Monday, 06 May 2013 17:43
The research journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) interviewed Dr. Courtney Carignan, an alumna of the EBRG, for a news article about widespread exposures to tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP). The article highlights Dr. Carignan’s recent publication from her doctoral research on office workers’ exposure to this ubiquitous flame retardant.

Courtney Carignan Dissertation Defense

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 20:00
On Friday March 29, 2013, EBRG doctoral student Courtney Walker Carignan successfully defended her thesis! Her dissertation comprised three papers exploring human exposure to flame retardants. Flame retardants are chemicals that are added to products such as consumer electronics and polyurethane foam to meet flammability standards. Her work investigated flame retardant exposure in three populations: first-time mothers, office workers and collegiate gymnasts. Her first paper on flame retardants in breast milk was published last fall in Environmental Science & Technology. Her latest paper on office workers was featured on Health.com last week (the original publication in Environment International).

New publication on toxicity of emerging flame retardant

Friday, 04 January 2013 15:31
EBRG investigators Drs. Tom Webster and Mike McClean are authors on one of the first papers to describe the toxicity of Bis-(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (TBPH), a chemical widely used since 2003 to replace polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in commercial flame retardant formulations. In toxicological studies of pregnant female rats, the authors found that a metabolite of TBPH induced adverse effects in the thyroid, liver, and the fetal testis. In mice cells, the metabolite induced obesogenic activity through activation of PPARα- and PPARγ, receptors that control adipocyte differentiation and fatty acid metabolism in cells. The authors found substantial levels of TBPH in dust collected from cars, homes, and offices, suggesting several possible routes for human exposure including via hand-to-mouth activities. The article was recently published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

BU and Brown SRPs present findings from vapor intrusion project

Thursday, 25 October 2012 18:02
Jennifer Ames (EBRG research assistant) presented at the 28th Annual International Conference on Soils, Sediments, Water, and Energy on October 16 in Amherst, MA. Her talk, entitled “Sewer Gas: An Indoor Source of VOCs to Consider During Vapor Intrusion Investigations,” discussed findings from the Boston University Superfund Research Program’s (BUSRP) collaborative vapor intrusion project with the Superfund Research Program at Brown University and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (ARRA Supplement to NIEHS P42 ES007381). Her talk presented evidence of VOCs in sewer gas entering a home through faulty plumbing, suggesting the implications of this pathway for future research and vapor intrusion policy and guidelines. The Association for Environmental Health and Sciences (AEHS) Foundation hosts annual east and west coast conferences attracting 600-800 attendees from state and federal agencies, industry, environmental engineering, consulting, and academia.

EBRG Collaborators Link Flame Retardant Exposure to Socioeconomics

Thursday, 14 June 2012 13:52
A study recently published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) found that age, socioeconomic status and breast feeding were significant predictors of exposure to flame retardants in 83 children from a North Carolina toddler cohort. The study was led by EBRG collaborators at Duke University with Dr. Tom Webster, a BUSPH professor of environmental health, as a contributing author. In addition, handwipe samples were found to be strongly correlated with PBDE levels in serum samples which may have implications for future research as handwipes are much easier to collect than blood samples. To learn more about the study’s findings, please see the SPH’s news coverage.

Office Study Findings Featured on WebMD

Tuesday, 24 January 2012 18:26
WebMD interviewed EBRG director Dr. Mike McClean for an article about his team’s recent finding that indoor office air is a significant source of PFC exposure. The article details the study’s design and offers perspectives from the Environmental Working Group and Dupont.

Fox News Latino Covers Nicaragua Study

Monday, 23 January 2012 18:05
Fox News Latino interviewed BUSPH’s Dr. Dan Brooks for an article on the “health mystery” behind the high rate of chronic kidney disease among Nicaraguan sugar cane workers. The article, published online, also features a slideshow of the study team on location in Nicaragua.

EBRG Office Study Highlighted in ACS Press Release

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 21:41
The American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Weekly Press Package, a weekly highlight of news from their 43 peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News, featured Dr. McClean’s report titled “First link between potentially toxic PFCs in office air and in office workers’ blood.” ACS calls the paper, which was recently published in Environmental Science & Technology, a “first-of-its-kind study” that sheds light on the office environment as a significant source of PFC exposure.

Nicaragua Project Featured on CBC’s “As it Happens”

Monday, 09 January 2012 18:59
Dr. Dan Brooks of EBRG’s Nicaragua project recently discussed the team’s research on As it Happens, a radio program produced by Canada’s CBC Radio. The interview, which was featured in Dec. 19th’s Monday Edition can be listened to on the CBC website (scroll down to segment 3).

BUSPH Dean’s Report Highlights Student Research

Monday, 09 January 2012 19:15
EBRG doctoral student Rebecca Laws was featured in Boston University School of Public Health 2011 Dean’s Report for her work on chronic kidney disease among sugar cane workers in Nicaragua. The Dean’s Report 2011 which will be made available online here also includes a video interview of Laws discussing the project.

BBC Covers Nicaragua Project

Tuesday, 03 January 2012 00:00
The EBRG’s work in Nicaragua was featured in BBC News Magazine this past December. Interviewed in the article is BUSPH epidemiology professor and principal investigator, Dr. Dan Brooks who hypothesizes that heat stress may be a cause of chronic kidney disease among the country’s sugar cane workers. Additionally, the Nicaragua project is highlighted inThe World, a podcast produced by PRI, BBC, and WGBH.

Study Links Office Dust to PBDE Exposure

Tuesday, 05 July 2011 00:00
An article in the BU SPH Student Insider highlighted the findings of a recent paper authored by EBRG doctoral student Deb Watkins. The paper, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found an association between levels of PBDEs in office dust and PBDEs in hand wipe and serum samples taken from study participants. According to Watkins, this was the first peer-reviewed paper to link the levels of PBDEs on people’s hands to levels in their blood. The findings suggest that increased hand-washing may limit PBDE exposures. Other BUSPH researchers on the project included Drs. Mike McClean, Tom Webster, Janice Weinberg, and Alicia Fraser.

Boston University Hosts BFR 2011

Friday, 10 June 2011 00:00
Drs. Mike McClean and Tom Webster recently co-chaired BFR 2011: The 12th Workshop on Brominated and Other Flame Retardants. Researchers, industry representatives, and policymakers convened at Boston University on June 5th -7th to take part in a flame retardant policy panel discussion, poster social, and two days of oral presentations on topics ranging from analytical chemistry to epidemiology. Research highlights included presentations on the identity and levels of new flame retardants in infant products, ecologic impacts on bird eggs, children’s exposure to flame retardants, and human health effects including disruption of thyroid hormones. The meeting also featured a keynote address by Dr. Ron Hites of Indiana University titled “New, Newer, and Newest Flame Retardants in the Environment.”
The Brominated Flame Retardant (BFR) workshops were started to bring together scientists and other parties investigating the environmental and health effects of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The workshop expanded this year to encompass the growing number of alternative flame retardants, including non-brominated compounds. For more information on this year’s conference, please visit the website.

EBRG Nicaragua Study Featured in ASPH ‘s Friday Letter

Friday, 10 December 2010 20:59
An article featuring the Exposure Biology Research Group’s work on the study of an epidemic of chronic kidney disease in Nicaragua was recently featured in the “Friday Letter”, a weekly online publication of the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH):
Thousands of people in northwestern Nicaragua are dying from chronic kidney failure, and there are no apparent causes for the epidemic. Currently, an interdepartmental team of Boston University (BU) School of Public Health researchers is investigating possible underlying reasons for this trend. The disease has, essentially, been a death sentence once you get it,” said BUSPH researcher Daniel Brooks, an associate professor of epidemiology who leads the group. We don’t often have public health epidemics [where] we really have no idea what the cause is. In this case, that is the situation. To date, the BU School of Public Health team has conducted studies on everything from the work processes used at NSEL, to the agrichemicals used on crops, to screening water samples for contaminants known to cause chronic kidney disease. Nothing, so far, has been shown to explain the excess occurrence of chronic kidney disease.

Oct. 29th Forum to Address BUSPH’s Response to an Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease in Nicaragua

Monday, 25 October 2010 18:54
Join a panel of Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers and their collaborators from Nicaragua and the World Bank, as they present “An Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease in Nicaragua: BUSPH Responds to a Public Health Crisis”, at a public health forum on Friday, Oct. 29th from 12:00-1:30pm in room L-112 of the Boston University School of Medicine Instructional Building.
Learn about this interdisciplinary public health research project from the perspective of BUSPH researchers who are investigating the epidemic, a Nicaraguan health professional who is working in the affected community, a World Bank representative who is overseeing the conflict between a Nicaraguan sugarcane company and an organization of former workers with chronic kidney disease, and an expert in conflict engagement who is mediating the complex dialogue process that is central to the investigation of this epidemic.
This research forum is sponsored by the BUSPH Research Committee and is intended to spotlight active interdisciplinary research projects at BUSPH. Lunch will be provided for the first 80 attendees. This event is free and open to the public.

BUSPH Faculty & Students Attend September 2010 Dioxin Conference

Friday, 01 October 2010 00:00
In September 2010, BUSPH Associate Professor Mike McClean and Professor Tom Webster attended the 30th International Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), better known as “Dioxin 2010″, in Santonio, Texas. BUSPH Associate Professor Veronica Vieira, doctoral student Deb Watkins, and BUSPH alumni Alicia Fraser and Kate Hoffman presented papers at the conference. In addition, professor Tom Webster joined nearly 150 scientists in signing a statement which raises concerns about the occurrence, toxicity, and efficacy of a major class of chemicals used as flame retardants in a wide array of consumer products. The statement and an accompanying editorial were published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). For more information please see the BUSPH Insider article on this statement.