THE POLLUTION INSIDE US
Toxicologists examine the chemicals of modern life.
By: Peg Herring, Oregon’s Agricultural Progress

Forty years ago, chemical pollution was the stuff that spewed from tailpipes, smokestacks, and sewers. Rivers burned, fish died, and forests withered under acid rain until Congress passed strict laws to curb the flood of manmade chemicals pouring into our waterways and atmosphere.

Man-made and naturally occurring chemicals pervade modern life. Here are a few that have been linked to human health problems.

However, 40 years ago there was little consideration of the chemicals that we were pouring into our bodies. The chemicals we use to sanitize our hands, package our foods, and keep our beds from going up in flames have seeped into our bodies in ways that were unimaginable a generation ago. Today, we are marinating in antibacterials, hormone disruptors, and flame retardants.

Man-made and naturally occurring chemicals pervade modern life. Here are a few that have been linked to human health problems.

“There are more than 80,000 man-made chemicals in existence today, and an estimated 2,000 new chemicals are introduced each year,” said Craig Marcus, a toxicologist at Oregon State University. “We encounter thousands of them every day, in food, kitchenware, furniture, household cleaners, and personal care products. And very few of them have been adequately tested for safety.” Continue reading

A field trip for 28 local 5th graders from Hoover Elementary School was held at the Sinnhuber Aquatic Research Laboratory (SARL) on May 12, 2014.  SARL, directed by Dr. Robert Tanguay, is a large state- of- the -art zebrafish facility used greatly for OSU SRP Project 3 - Systems Approach to Define Toxicity of Complex PAH Mixtures.

Robert Tanguay and Carrie Barton present about zebrafish research to 5th graders.
Robert Tanguay and Carrie Barton present about zebrafish research to 5th graders.

The SARL personnel, along with SRP Trainees and other grad students and postdocs, wanted the students to get hands-on experience and enjoy science.  Specifically the students learned all the unique features of zebrafish and how they are used in scientific research.

In 2012, curriculum was developed for visiting classes.  Students break up into five groups and rotate through various stations.

1) Tour of the Land of Zebrafish / Zebrafish Life Stage: Learn about how small the fish are and how rapid they develop.

2) Glow in the Dark Zebrafish: Learn about the different tools used in research.

3) The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Sort out dead and alive embryo, and determine the age of zebrafish.

4) Toxicity Screening: Learn how to get embryos into wells, view plates under the microscope, and identify normal and not normal fish.

5) Fish Are Like Us: Identify similarities between fish and humans.

 

Feedback from kids:

 

“This is so awesome!”

 

“Best field trip ever!”

 

“Cool!”

 

More information about zebrafish

Diana Rohlman, CEC Program Coordinator, presented at the Contemporary Northwest Tribal Health Conference. The conference was hosted at the World Trade Center in Portland, Oregon on March 28-29, 2014.

View Presentation

Evolution of a Robust Tribal-University Research Partnership to Investigate Tribal Exposures and Build Scientific Capacity 

The Northwest Portland Area Indian Board posted all of the Conference Presentations.

The overall theme of the conference was around community-driven or community-based participatory research to advance the area of health research within Tribal communities.There were some fantastic ‘big-data’ presentations by the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) looking at intake and outtake data from federally funded clinics.  ~Diana Rohlman, Presenter, Contemporary Northwest Tribal Health Conference

Shared Highlights

The Community Engagement Core (CEC) takes OSU SRP Center expertise on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and applies it to the needs of community partners.
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) has been a key partner for CEC.

CTUIR is located in Eastern Oregon, so one of the limitations to overcome is distance. One reason the partnership has thrived is because the CTUIR has scientific capacity and resources, which is unique amongst Tribal nations. Both partners are bringing scientific expertise to the table.

Graduate students gain knowledge and experience with Tribes by participating in the CEC research projects.
Graduate students gain knowledge and experience with Tribes by participating in the CEC research projects.

Five Key Features of the OSU SRP Tribal-University Partnership

  1. Utilizes Community-based Participatory Research
  2. Builds scientific and cultural capacity between CTUIR and OSU researchers
  3. Utilizes data sharing agreements to protect Tribal rights
  4. Develops culturally appropriate risk reduction strategies with CTUIR
  5. Disseminates knowledge through journals, newsletters and community meetings to provide Tribal perspectives on research practices. (See the OSU SRP web site for extensive resources that include collaborative publications and presentations.)
Cory Gerlach hanging out with the zebrafish at the Sinnhuber Aquatic Research Laboratory (SARL)
Cory Gerlach hanging out with the zebrafish at the Sinnhuber Aquatic Research Laboratory (SARL)

Cory Gerlach is an undergraduate student in the Tanguay lab and will be graduating this spring with an Honors Bachelor of Science in Bioresource Research.  Besides winning awards, Cory has transformed his career with valuable research experience gained over the last two years.

In 2013, Cory won the best undergraduate research presentation at the PANWAT meeting in Seattle. The title of his PANWAT poster was “Mono-substituted isopropylated triaryl phosphate, a major component of flame retardant mixture Firemaster 550, is an AHR agonist that exhibits AHR-independent cardiac toxicity”.

In 2014, Cory won the best undergraduate poster presentation at the OSU EMT Research Day, and he received a Pfizer SOT Undergraduate Student Travel Award for the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) in Phoenix, AZ to present his recent findings.

Reflection of Experience by Cory Gerlach

My experience in the Tanguay lab has completely changed my career path.
Before I began my undergraduate research, I thought I would get a masters
in public policy or shift my focus from science to policy or law in some
graduate program. However, in the Tanguay lab I discovered my passion for
bench research, found that I was good at it, and learned that these basic
discoveries are crucial in order to affect policy and therefore improve
public health. Having Dr. Tanguay as a mentor has also helped me to keep
in mind the big picture of my research, and he has taught me that there is
always room for innovation and improvements to how we answer big research
questions. Continue reading

Staci Simonich (OSU SRP Leader, Project 5) served as a panelist at the  “HEALTH EFFECTS OF FINE PARTICLES FROM VEHICLE EMISSIONS” Meeting on April 1, 2014.

The meeting was hosted in Washington D.C. by the Institute of Medicine, and sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Energy Future Coalition, with the American Lung Association and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.  See Agenda

Workshop breaks provided further discussion time for Staci Simonich, left, and Frederica Perera of Columbia University. (Photo courtesy of Paula Whitacre)
Workshop breaks provided further discussion time for Staci Simonich, left, and Frederica Perera of Columbia University. (Photo courtesy of Paula Whitacre)

NIEHS and NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., described the purpose of the meeting in her opening remarks. “This workshop assembles a panel of leading researchers to present the current state of our knowledge on the potential effects of UFPs with aromatics, as well as the research strategies needed to address this emerging environmental public health issue,” she said.

According to Staci Simonich, Ph.D, China and India are the world’s largest PAH emitters, but the U.S. emits the most per person. Her lab has shown that air masses containing PAHs routinely travel great distances, such as across the Pacific Ocean.

Read more  in the May 2014 issue of the NIEHS Environmental Factor.