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HUMAN HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
 
 

• Rebecca Braslau (Chem) Mitigating Exposure to Phthalates Plasticizers from PVC Products, and Urushiol from Poison Oak & Ivy
• Dave Draper (AMS) Bayesian Statistics, Hierarchical Modeling, and Bayesian Non-parametric Methods
• Russ Flegal (METX) Biogeochemical Cycling of Mercury in the Environment
• Scott Oliver (Chem) Cationic Materials for Trapping of Heavy Metal Pollutants
• Chad Saltikov(METX) The Role of Microbes in Arsenic-Contamination of Drinking Water
• Don Smith (METX) Molecular and Functional impacts of Neurotoxic Agents
• Fitnat Yildiz (METX) Ex-vivo Survival Mechanisms Used by Vibrio cholerae between Epidemics

Mitigating Exposure to Phthalates Plasticizers from PVC Products, and Urushiol from Poison Oak & Ivy

Rebecca Braslau, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Rebecca Braslau utilizes her expertise in synthetic organic chemistry to produce new materials that positively impact human health. In one project, her research group is developing a substitute for phthalate plasticizers. Traditional plasticizers are mixed with pre-formed PVC and melted into a matrix of PVC and plasticizer, from which many commercial materials are produced, including building materials, clothing, food packaging and medical supplies. When phthalates migrate out of these commodity products and are absorbed or ingested, they are metabolized to form endocrine signaling compounds that can result in a variety of diseases including cancer, sexual malformation, and obesity. The Braslau group is preparing phthalate mimics that are covalently attached to polymers, preventing migration out of PVC products, and thus mitigating exposure. In another project, Braslau is pioneering new methods for detection of contamination by urushiol, the oily organic allergen found in poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac. Contact with urushiol from these plants elicits dermatitis in about 70% of the population. Avoidance and quick removal of the invisible oil is the best way to prevent the annoying and in some cases medically incapacitating immunoresponse. The Braslau group is developing practical methods to detect urushiol using profluorescent nitroxides in a spray form, which react with urushiol to form a highly fluorescent substance to signal the location of the urushiol contaminant. [More]

Rebecca Braslau's Publications Rebecca Braslau's E-Mail

Biogeochemical Cycling of Mercury in the Environment

A. Russell Flegal, Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology

The Flegal lab investigates biogeochemical cycling of trace metals in the environment. One of the lab's current research project involves examination of the transport, fate, and cycling of mercury, a potent neurotoxin to both aquatic life and humans. The results of this research and other similar studies will play an important role in assessing programs designed to mitigate the impact of such trace elements on human health and the environment. [More]

Flegal's Publications Russ Flegal's E-Mail

Prof Scott OliverCationic Materials for Trapping of Heavy Metal Pollutants

Scott Oliver Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry

The Oliver group focuses on creating new cationic materials that will uptake EPA priority pollutants such as perchlorate and chromate. These materials release benign anions while soaking up heavy metals, which exist in water as their oxo-anions. The group has discovered a new class of extended inorganic and metal-organic hosts and investigates their anion exchange properties. The goal is the selective uptake of anions such as perchlorate, pertechnetate and chromate with high selectivity and potential reusability. Recent breakthroughs have led to materials that show record uptake in grams per grams for permanganate and perrhenate, studied as surrogates for the problematic pertechnetate. The materials outperform anion exchange resins and the cationic clay known as hydrotalcite by several-fold, even when non-toxic anions were added in over 100-fold excess concentration. [More]

Oliver Publications Scott Oliver's Email

Prof Chad SaltikovThe Role of Microbes in Arsenic-Contamination of Drinking Water

Chad Saltikov Dept. of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology

By converting the chemical form of arsenic found in the soil, naturally occurring microbes have been shown to exacerbate arsenic contamination of ground water, resulting in serious health crises in Asia and Latin America. Professor Chad Saltikov investigates the molecular biology of these microbial processes. Data from his laboratory will help devise strategies that can be used to ameliorate contamination of drinking water. [More]

Saltikov Publications Chad Saltikov's Email

Prof Don Smith Molecular and Functional impacts of Neurotoxic Agents

Don Smith, Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology

It is becoming clear that exposures to environmental toxins, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic can cause or contribute to the development of diseases in humans. For example, some neurobehavioral and neurodegenerative disorders, such as learning deficits and Parkinsonism have been linked to elevated lead and manganese exposures in children and manganese exposures in adults, respectively. The Smith lab explores basic mechanisms underlying how toxic metal exposures contributes to cellular effects and disease. [More]

Smith Publications Don Smith's Email


Prof Fitnat YildizEx-vivo Survival Mechanisms Used by Vibrio cholerae between Epidemics

Fitnat Yildiz, Dept. of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology

Ex-vivo Survival Mechanisms used by Vibrio cholerae between Epidemics: Fitnat Yildiz's laboratory investigates signaling and regulatory networks of Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of the Asiatic cholera. She and her colleagues are particularly interested in those mechanisms that allow the pathogen to adapt to changes in its habitat. The bacteria's ability to survive in different growth modes in aquatic environments is closely linked to seasonal epidemics of cholera. Yildiz's laboratory is attempting to identify and characterize genes and processes associated with phase variations of the pathogen. Their results will be useful for prediction and control of epidemics of this devastating disease. [More]

Yildiz Publications Fitnat Yildiz's E-Mail
 

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