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. Robyn 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.

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

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

Robyn Tanguay (Leader, Project 3, Director, Sinnhuber Aquatic Research Lab) traveled to California on April 29-20 for the Norcal SOT Spring Symposium .  Her presentation “Rapid In Vivo Assessment of Bioactivity in Zebrafish: High Content Data for Predictive Toxicology” was well received by scientists from the California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation, California EPA, and many others participating via the webcast.

Review and download slides from the event: http://www.slideshare.net/OSU_Superfund/tanguay-cal-epa
More images are shared by the California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation on Facebook.
Congratulations to the lab of Dr. Robyn Tanguay, Project 3 Leader!
The manuscript, Multidimensional In Vivo Hazard Assessment Using Zebrafish, accepted October 2013 in Toxicological Sciences, has been published in the January 2014 journal (in the Safety Evaluation section) with an Editor’s Highlight.

January 2014 Toxicological Sciences journal
January 2014 Toxicological Sciences journal

The Tanguay group uses the embryonic zebrafish model to demonstrate the utility of high throughput screening for toxicology studies. The group evaluated the 1060 US EPA ToxCast Phase 1 and 2 compounds on 18 distinct outcomes. With four doses for each compound the group generated a dizzying number of data points highlighting the importance of bioinformatics analysis in these types of studies. The study shows how it is now possible to screen many of the tens of thousands of untested chemicals using a whole animal model in which one can literally see developmental malformations. —Gary W. Miller

Abstract

There are tens of thousands of man-made chemicals in the environment; the inherent safety of most of these chemicals is not known. Relevant biological platforms and new computational tools are needed to prioritize testing of chemicals with limited human health hazard information. We describe an experimental design for high-throughput characterization of multidimensional in vivo effects with the power to evaluate trends relating to commonly cited chemical predictors. We evaluated all 1060 unique U.S. EPA ToxCast phase 1 and 2 compounds using the embryonic zebrafish and found that 487 induced significant adverse biological responses. The utilization of 18 simultaneously measured endpoints means that the entire system serves as a robust biological sensor for chemical hazard. The experimental design enabled us to describe global patterns of variation across tested compounds, evaluate the concordance of the available in vitro and in vivo phase 1 data with this study, highlight specific mechanisms/value-added/novel biology related to notochord development, and demonstrate that the developmental zebrafish detects adverse responses that would be missed by less comprehensive testing strategies.

rb_210_img3Learn more about Tanguay’s zebrafish research