Assessing PBDE Exposure Pathways

Funding Source: NIEHS R01 ES015829
PI: Tom Webster, DSc, BUSPH
Co-Investigators: Michael McClean, ScD, BUSPH; Heather Stapleton, PhD, Duke University

ebrg_1Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a family of fire retardants commonly used in consumer products including electronics and furniture containing polyurethane foam. Concentrations of PBDEs in human serum and environmental media have been increasing over the last few decades and laboratory experiments demonstrate that PBDEs are toxic to the reproductive and nervous systems of young animals, but considerably less is known about their effects in people. Suspected routes include diet as well as incidental ingestion, inhalation, and dermal exposure to dust. Preliminary assessments of exposure suggest an association exists between the concentrations of PBDEs found in house dust and blood serum levels of the inhabitants, however little research has been done to identify other sources of exposure including dietary habits as well as the office and vehicular environments. READ MORE…

Assessing Vapor Intrusion Exposure & Risk

Funding Source: ARRA Supplement to NIEHS P42 ES007381
PI: David Ozonoff, MD, MPH, BUSPH
Co-Investigators: Michael McClean, ScD, BUSPH; Madeleine Scammell, DSc, BUSPH; Wendy Heiger-Bernays, PhD, BUSPH; Eric Suuberg, ScD, Brown University; Kelly Pennell, PhD, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

ebrg_2Decades of chemical handling at 50 Tufts Avenue in Somerville MA resulted in soil and groundwater contamination in the surrounding residential area. The primary constituents of concern are volatile organic compounds because of their ability to migrate into above ground structures. Neighboring homes are subject to indoor air contamination, and a number of vapor intrusion systems have been installed at residences near 50 Tufts Avenue. Vapor intrusion is a complex problem for agencies that are tasked with developing regulations to ensure protection of human health. Ideally, characterization of vapor intrusion risks typically involves sampling soil gas around and/or beneath the building of concern and may also include the collection of indoor air samples from affected buildings. However, many states base such regulatory decisions on the results of vapor intrusion models that have yet to be validated. READ MORE…

Chronic Kidney Disease in Nicaragua

Funding Source: World Bank Award
PI: Daniel Brooks, DSc, BUSPH
Co-Investigators: Michael McClean, ScD, BUSPH; Ann Aschengrau, ScD, BUSPH; Kate Applebaum, ScD, BUSPH; Madeleine Scammell, DSc, BUSPH

ebrg_3We are currently conducting an investigation of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the northwestern region of Nicaragua in conjunction with the World Bank and Nicaraguan partners. CKD is a major global public health concern that is increasing worldwide, and while the most common causes in developed countries are diabetes and hypertension, the etiology of CKD in Nicaragua is unknown. If not properly treated, CKD can lead to end stage renal disease (ESRD) and often death, particularly in developing countries where patients do not typically have access to dialysis and kidney transplants. READ MORE…

Jet Fuel Exposure among Military Personnel

Funding Source: Henry M. Jackson Foundation Award #000125796
PI: Susan Proctor, DSc, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine
Co-Investigators: Michael McClean, ScD, BUSPH; Kristen Smith, DSc, Harvard School of Public Health; Ema Rodrigues, DSc, Harvard School of Public Health

ebrg_4Jet propulsion fuel 8, also known as “JP8”, is a common occupational exposure among US military personnel that affects over 2 million workers worldwide. Some of the most highly exposed Air Force personnel include fuel systems workers who performance maintenance activities inside of aircraft fuel tanks. Civilian airline personnel are also exposed to similar kerosene based jet fuels, such as Jet A and Jet A1. Exposures in occupational settings occur primarily through inhalation and dermal absorption, although there is also potential for exposure via incidental ingestion. While there is little information on the human health consequences associated with exposure to JP8, previous studies have suggested that adverse neurological health effects may result. READ MORE…

Molecular Epidemiology of Head & Neck Cancer

Funding Source: NCI R01 CA078609-07
PI: Karl Kelsey, MD, MOH, Brown University
Co-Investigators: Michael McClean, ScD, BUSPH; Heather Nelson, PhD, University of Minnesota; Carmen Marsit, PhD, Brown University; Brock Christensen, PhD, Brown University

Funding Source: FAMRI Award# 062555-YSCA
PI: Michael McClean, ScD, BUSPH
Co-Investigators: Karl Kelsey, MD, MOH, Brown University; Carmen Marsit, PhD, Brown University

ebrg_5Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the tenth most common cancer in the US and the sixth most common cancer worldwide. While 75% of HNSCC is attributable to smoking and alcohol consumption, a significant proportion of this disease remains unexplained. Polymorphisms of genes, associated with an increased risk for lung, bladder, and breast cancer, may further alter cancer risk by level of tobacco or alcohol exposure. Tobacco and alcohol by-products are clearly associated with HNSCC, and have been found to induce genetic mutations; therefore, investigation into genetic susceptibility to this disease is warranted. In our population-based multicenter case-control study of HNSCC, we focus on exploring the role of risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol, human papillomavirus, secondhand tobacco smoke, diet, marijuana, and the genetic factors that may modify such relationships. READ MORE…

PAC Exposure among Asphalt Workers

PI: Robert Herrick, ScD, Harvard School of Public Health
Co-Investigators: Michael McClean, ScD, BUSPH; Jennifer Cavallari, ScD, Harvard School of Public Health

ebrg_6This study investigates the relative contribution of inhalation and dermal exposure to the levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds (PAC) and PAC metabolites in the urine of hot-mix asphalt paving workers. The need for such research was emphasized at the June 2006 International Health Symposium in Dresden Germany, where the true extent of dermal absorption and the relevant biomarkers of exposure were identified as data gaps. To fill this gap, a partnership was formed by researchers from a variety of disciplines, resulting in a study designed to determine the source, nature, pathway, and biological relevance of PAC exposure in hot-mix asphalt paving workers. READ MORE…