Jill Schrlau has been working as a Research Assistant since June 2009 in the lab of Dr. Staci Massey Simonich. She is now going back to school to be able to change careers from analytical chemistry to environmental engineering with a specific interest in remediation.
Jill has two Bachelor degrees under her belt, and will soon have two Master’s degree.
BS in Chemistry from Florida International University (2004)
BS in Environmental Studies from Florida International University (2004)
MS in Chemistry from Oregon State University (2007)
Jill’s current MS research is on the degradation of PAHs in contaminated soil using four different cultures of aerobic microbial cultures.
Identification of degradation production products and their potential toxicity compared to the parent PAHs will fill knowledge gaps in the field of bioremediation of PAHs.
This project is a collaboration between Dr. Staci Massey Simonich in the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology and Dr. Lewis Semprini in the Department of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University.
Besides science, Jill enjoys gardening, ballroom/swing dancing, and traveling.
In June 2014, DOSE recruited nine Tribal members to help with a study that would measure how people metabolize and eliminate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that can attach to food when it is smoked.
PAHs are produced by burning wood and other materials. Salmon, a first food, is important to the subsistence of Native Americans living in the Pacific Northwest. The salmon run in spring and fall. Smoking salmon is one of the traditional ways to preserve this seasonally abundant food and make it available year round.
The study team first conducted a community educational forum for study volunteers that described the purpose of the study and get informed consent. Each participant was asked to refrain from eating any foods containing PAHs for two days. Then they were asked to eat a small serving of traditionally smoked salmon. After eating the salmon they provided urine samples to help researchers understand how the PAH residues produced during smoking events are processed by the body.
SRP Trainee Oleksii Motorykin (Project 5) is involved in this study and is working with CORE E and DOSE Scientists to interpret the data.
The Community Engagement Core has a wealth of resources shared on the web site related to working with Tribes. Be sure to check it out!
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.
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 →
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
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.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered novel compounds produced by certain types of chemical reactions – such as those found in vehicle exhaust or grilling meat – that are hundreds of times more mutagenic than their parent compounds which are known carcinogens.
These compounds were not previously known to exist, and raise additional concerns about the health impacts of heavily-polluted urban air or dietary exposure. It’s not yet been determined in what level the compounds might be present, and no health standards now exist for them.
The compounds were identified in laboratory experiments that mimic the type of conditions which might be found from the combustion and exhaust in cars and trucks, or the grilling of meat over a flame.
“Some of the compounds that we’ve discovered are far more mutagenic than we previously understood, and may exist in the environment as a result of heavy air pollution from vehicles or some types of food preparation,” said Staci Simonich, a professor of chemistry and toxicology in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences.
“We don’t know at this point what levels may be present, and will explore that in continued research,” she said.
The parent compounds involved in this research are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, formed naturally as the result of almost any type of combustion, from a wood stove to an automobile engine, cigarette or a coal-fired power plant. Many PAHs, such as benzopyrene, are known to be carcinogenic, believed to be more of a health concern that has been appreciated in the past, and are the subject of extensive research at OSU and elsewhere around the world.
The PAHs can become even more of a problem when they chemically interact with nitrogen to become “nitrated,” or NPAHs, scientists say. The newly-discovered compounds are NPAHs that were unknown to this point.
This study found that the direct mutagenicity of the NPAHs with one nitrogen group can increase 6 to 432 times more than the parent compound. NPAHs based on two nitrogen groups can be 272 to 467 times more mutagenic. Mutagens are chemicals that can cause DNA damage in cells that in turn can cause cancer.
For technical reasons based on how the mutagenic assays are conducted, the researchers said these numbers may actually understate the increase in toxicity – it could be even higher.
These discoveries are an outgrowth of research on PAHs that was done by Simonich at the Beijing Summer Olympic Games in 2008, when extensive studies of urban air quality were conducted, in part, based on concerns about impacts on athletes and visitors to the games.
Beijing, like some other cities in Asia, has significant problems with air quality, and may be 10-50 times more polluted than some major urban areas in the U.S. with air concerns, such as the Los Angeles basin.
An agency of the World Health Organization announced last fall that it now considers outdoor air pollution, especially particulate matter, to be carcinogenic, and cause other health problems as well. PAHs are one of the types of pollutants found on particulate matter in air pollution that are of special concern.
Concerns about the heavy levels of air pollution from some Asian cities are sufficient that Simonich is doing monitoring on Oregon’s Mount Bachelor, a 9,065-foot mountain in the central Oregon Cascade Range. Researchers want to determine what levels of air pollution may be found there after traveling thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean.
The Superfund Research Program is federally funded and administered by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS grant #P42 ES016465), an institute of the National Institutes of Health.