December 2009

Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show

More than 20 percent of the nation's water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.

That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.

Link to full text of article: Full Text

Dartmouth Superfund Researcher Scott Gerber presented a Shared Resources Workshop entitled "Proteomics" on December 9, 2009

Scott A. Gerber, PhD, the Director of the Proteomics Shared Resource and Assistant Professor in Genetics, presented a workshop about his work in the Proteomics field.

Ph.D. Graduate Student Courtney Kozul Horvath successfully defended her thesis on December 7, 2009

A member of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and the Superfund Research Program here at Dartmouth College, Courtney successfully defended her thesis, "Immunomodulatory Effects of Chronic Low Dose Arsenic Exposure." Her defense was a part of the Pharmacology and Toxicology Seminar Series. Hosting the thesis defense were Dr. Joshua Hamilton and Dr. Bruce Stanton.

November 2009

Dartmouth Research Translation Coordinator, Laurie Reynolds Rardin, attended the NH Watershed Conference - The Science and Technology of Water on November 20,2009.

At the conference Laurie had a display booth where she showcased our new film “In Small Doses: Arsenic” and presented a poster on research translation.

Bladder Cancer Risks Increase Over Time For Smokers

Dartmouth researcher Margaret Karagas was part of a team that investigated the increased risk of bladder cancer among smokers. Risk of bladder cancer for smokers has increased since the mid-1990s, with a risk progressively increasing to a level five times higher among current smokers in New Hampshire than that among nonsmokers in 2001-2004, according to a new study published online November 13 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Furthermore, researchers found that among individuals who smoked the same total number of cigarettes over their lifetime, smoking fewer cigarettes per day for more years may be more harmful than smoking more cigarettes per day for fewer years.

It is well known that cigarette smoking causes bladder cancer, but the influence of various parameters of smoking history, including trends in risk over time, is unclear.

Link to full text of article: Full Text

EPA Study Reveals Widespread Contamination of Fish in U.S. Lakes and Reservoirs

WASHINGTON - A new EPA study shows concentrations of toxic chemicals in fish tissue from lakes and reservoirs in nearly all 50 U.S. states. For the first time, EPA is able to estimate the percentage of lakes and reservoirs nationwide that have fish containing potentially harmful levels of chemicals such as mercury and PCBs.

"These results reinforce Administrator Jackson's strong call for revitalized protection of our nation's waterways and long-overdue action to protect the American people," said Peter S. Silva, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Water. "EPA is aggressively tackling the issues the report highlights. Before the results were even finalized, the agency initiated efforts to further reduce toxic mercury pollution and strengthen enforcement of the Clean Water Act - all part of a renewed effort to protect the nation's health and environment."

Link to full text of article: Full Text

More information on local fish advisories:

October 2009

Dartmouth researchers discover that drug may raise bladder cancer risk

Taking immune system-suppressing glucocorticoids may raise bladder cancer risk, U.S. researchers said.

The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, examined the long-term use of glucocorticoids -- drugs used in combination with other drugs to prevent transplanted organ rejection and also to treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

Previous research has shown an association between such drug therapies and higher risk of skin cancer and lymphoma. A similar risk for bladder cancer "might indicate the need for closer monitoring of individuals who regularly take glucocorticoids," the study authors said in a statement.

The Dartmouth Medical School research team, led by epidemiologist Margaret Karagas, examined the long-term use of glucocorticoids by 786 bladder-cancer patients and by 1,083 controls.

Link to Article on United Press International

Read more on this story at Science Daily Science Daily

Dartmouth Students Win at the Collegiate Inventors Competition

Three Dartmouth undergrads have won the Undergraduate Category of the Collegiate Inventors Competition with their household electrocoauglation arsenic filter. As part of a capstone design course for Dartmouth's engineering program, Phil Wagner, Lindsay Holiday, and Dana Leland tackled a problem: to reduce arsenic found in groundwater to safe levels, with a cheap, reliable device made of materials locally available in rural Nepal.

Courtney Kozul, a student involved in the Superfund Research Program, gave a Seminar at Colby Sawyer College on October 28, 2009

Courtney Kozul delivered a talk on her research at Colby Sawyer College on October 28, 2009.

Joshua Hamilton was a speaker at the 3rd Congress of the International Society of Nutrigenetics / Nutrigenomics

Joshua Hamilton, PI of Project 2 was invited to speak at the 3rd Congress of the International Society of Nutrigenetics / Nutrigenomics, which was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. The conference took place in Bethesda MD October 21-23. The title of his talk was "Laboratory Diet Profoundly Alters Gene Expression and Confounds Genomic Analysis".


September 2009

2009 Northeast Private Well Symposium

The Dartmouth Toxic Metals Research program will be debuting its new film, “In Small Doses: Arsenic” at the upcoming 2009 Northeast Private Well Symposium , November 16-17, 2009 at the Holiday Inn By The Bay in Portland, Maine. The ten minute video will also be shown at our exhibit booth during both meeting days. We are encouraging people to link to it on our website.

During day two of the symposium, Dartmouth researcher, Courtney Kozul will be presenting her paper entitled “Chronic exposure to low-dose arsenic in drinking water compromises the immune response to respiratory infection”.

The Symposium will highlight research and educational efforts in the field of private well protection in order to reduce the risks associated with groundwater use for private well water consumers.

Annual Meeting of the Superfund Research Program: Emerging Issues, Emerging Progress

November 2-5, 2009

Members of the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Research Program will attend the 2009 NIEHS Annual Superfund Research Program conference in New York City this fall. The conference will highlight new research findings that are of direct relevance to the EPA's work at Superfund sites and also discuss new problems facing the environment. The tentative agenda includes six scientific sessions and presentations by Superfund investigators, EPA scientists and talented student trainees. Courtney Kozul a Dartmouth College PhD student, will be giving a presentation entitled "Exposure to Arsenic in Mice Leads to Susceptibility to Swine Flu infection."

This year's meeting will also feature an entire day dedicated to the Research Translation core. Our new Research Translation Coordinator, Laurie Reynolds Rardin is looking forward to attending this conference and learning about current research at other Superfund Programs around the country as well as meeting with her research translation colleagues.

August 2009

New Study Focuses on Mercury Cycling in Great Bay Ecosystem

Biologist Celia Chen and her technician Deenie Bugge were up to their knees and elbows in thick grey marsh mud, searching for small polychaete worms buried in the Squamscott River sediment. They rinsed off by pulling a seine through the water channel at low tide, looking for mummichogs — a small estuarine fish — and green crabs.

These organisms, along with water and sediment samples, help reveal how the heavy metal mercury moves through the intricate estuarine food web and how it could impact humans near the seacoast. Exposure to high levels of this neurotoxin can impair motor coordination and sensory ability, and estuaries such as Great Bay are ideal locations for the accumulation of contaminants like mercury that settle out from surrounding rivers and industrial land use.

Mercury in fish widespread, study shows

Mercury contamination was found in every fish tested at nearly 300 streams across the country in the most comprehensive look at the spread of the toxic element in streams and rivers.

All fish had traces of contamination, and about a quarter had mercury levels exceeding what the Environmental Protection Agency says is safe for people eating average amounts of fish.

From 1998 to 2005, scientists from the US Geological Survey collected and tested more than 1,000 fish, including bass, trout, and catfish, from 291 streams nationwide.

“This science sends a clear message that our country must continue to confront pollution, restore our nation's waterways, and protect the public from potential health dangers,'' Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.


New Research Translation Coordinator for Dartmouth College's Toxic Metals Research Program Wins 2009 ECO Award for Local Magazine Article

Laurie Reynolds Rardin, the new Research Translation Coordinator for Dartmouth's Toxic Metals Research Program (supported by a Superfund Research Program grant), has won an ECO Award of Merit for her article, “More Green on the Map,” which appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of Kearsarge Magazine.

ECO Awards recognize outstanding achievement by environmental communications professionals. Award winners are selected on the overall effectiveness of the environmental communication. Only 10 Awards of Excellence and 42 Awards of Merit were presented in 2009. The Kearsarge Magazine article, “More Green on the Map,” covered several Lake Sunapee/Kearsarge communities that are working hard to protect wildlife habitats, watersheds, agricultural lands and historic properties.

The ECO Awards competition is open to all individuals, companies and organizations involved in the production of environmental communications — not just “green” organizations, but any and everyone with an environmental message to share. The 2009 ECO Awards winners reflect a wide variety of professional environmental communicators and organizations.

Graduate Student Wins “Young Investigator Travel Award”

Brendan Faherty one of our graduate students has won a “Young Investigator Travel Award” to present his research at the 9th annual Human Proteome Organization (HUPO) World Congress in Toronto, Canada in late September. Kudos to Brendan!

High School Researcher at Dartmouth Wins Award

Nick Sinnott-Armstrong, a high-school student who completed a summer research project in the Dartmouth College Superfund Research Program (SRP), took first prize for his work in a programming contest at the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO), held July 8–12 in Montreal.

Sinnott-Armstrong worked with Casey Green and Jason Moore, Ph.D., of the NIEHS-supported Integrative Biology Core (IBC) IBC at Dartmouth to analyze and present epidemiological data using computer technology normally found in 3-D video games. He is the first author on a newly published paper link reporting on the application in health research.

Link to full text of article: Full Text

A New Analytical Method to Support Studies of Mercury Bioavailability/Bioaccumulation in Aquatic Ecosystems

Background: Mercury (Hg) enters the environment from natural and anthropogenic sources and readily moves into the biosphere, eventually making its way into all water bodies. An interdisciplinary team of ecologists, biogeochemists, trace metal chemists and modelers, directed by Dr. Celia Chen at the Dartmouth College SRP, is investigating the natural processes regulating the fate of Hg and other metals across several orders of biological complexity. The ultimate goal is to develop a mechanistic understanding of the vital links between human and environmental health. They are using extensive field surveys, mechanistic experiments, and detailed analytical and statistical models to discover the mechanisms underlying movement of Hg and methyl mercury (MeHg) through reservoir and estuarine foods webs into fish and shellfish and ultimately, humans.

Link to full text of article: Full Text

July 29, 2009

Tanning beds are as deadly as arsenic, cancer study says

International cancer experts have moved tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation into the top cancer risk category, deeming both to be as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas.

For years, scientists have described tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation as “probable carcinogens.''

A new analysis of about 20 studies concludes the risk of skin cancer jumps by 75 percent when people start using tanning beds before age 30. Experts also found that all types of ultraviolet radiation caused worrying mutations in mice, proof the radiation is carcinogenic. Previously, only one type of ultraviolet radiation was thought to be lethal.

The new classification means tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation are definite causes of cancer, alongside tobacco, the hepatitis B virus, and chimney sweeping, among others.

Link to full text of article: Full Text

July 29, 2009

FDA says mercury fillings are safe-Retracts warning for some patients

The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that silver-colored dental fillings that contain mercury are safe for patients, reversing an earlier caution against their use in certain patients, including pregnant women and children.

“While elemental mercury has been associated with adverse health effects at high exposures, the levels released by dental amalgam fillings are not high enough to cause harm in patients,'' the FDA said, citing an agency review of roughly 200 scientific studies.

Still, in final regulations issued yesterday as part of an earlier legal settlement, it said the fillings were now considered “moderate risk'' devices and will include details about the risks and benefits of the products. They will also carry warnings against their use in patients with mercury allergies or in poorly ventilated areas.

Link to full text of article: Full Text

July 17, 2009

Arsenic makes mice more susceptible to H1N1 flu virus

Low dose exposure to arsenic compromises the immune response to infection in mice, increasing their vulnerability to the flu virus. By itself, the metal altered the number and function of certain immune cells. The changes predisposed the rodents to more severe reactions when exposed to the Influenza A virus.

This is the first study to link arsenic exposure to a reduced immune response. The results suggest those people most exposed to arsenic through their drinking water may be more susceptible to illness and possibly death when infected with the H1N1 swine flu virus.

June 4, 2009

Scientists call for Comprehensive Marine Mercury Monitoring Network

BioDiversity Research Institute, Gorham, ME

Gorham, ME - Four papers - recently released by three leading scientific journals - provide evidence that coastal and marine ecosystems from arctic to tropical regions are sensitive to environmental mercury (Hg) loading. The research findings and associated articles, provided by the BioDiversity Research Institute (BRI), support the need for a comprehensive Marine Mercury Monitoring Network to coordinate international research and monitoring efforts.

BRI and other mercury scientists are working to create comprehensive global mercury monitoring networks. These efforts were summarized yesterday, 6/3/2009, in an article written for Nature and published online The article frames researchers' challenges within the context of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) treaty to control mercury emissions, which negotiators plan to forge by 2013.

For full text of this article click here: Full Text

May 20, 2009

courtney kozul

Courtney Kozul

New Role for an Old Poison: Common Arsenic Exposure Levels Inhibit Flu-fighting Ability against H1N1, DMS Scientists Find

Hanover, N.H.—Low levels of arsenic exposure that commonly occur through drinking contaminated well water severely compromise the immune response to influenza A (H1N1) infection and may lead to increased susceptibility and severity, Dartmouth Medical School scientists have found.

"Hundreds of millions of people across the world are exposed to levels of arsenic above the recommended standard so the impact of arsenic exposure on the potential for a pandemic flu outbreak is of particular concern," said DMS graduate student Courtney Kozul, lead author of the study, reported online in Environmental Health Perspectives.

For full text of this article visit: DMS News

May 20, 2009

Study Suggests Low-Dose Arsenic Compromises Immune Response to Influenza A

Mouse study may help explain why flu is worse for some people than others

A research article published online May 20 ahead of print in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) suggests that low-dose exposure to arsenic in drinking water may significantly alter components of the immune system and cause a number of changes in the body's response to respiratory infection caused by influenza A, also known as H1N1.

First author Courtney D. Kozul and colleagues reported that mice exposed to 100 parts per billion (ppb) of arsenic in drinking water had altered immune responses, higher viral titers and more severe symptoms in response to influenza A infection compared with infected mice that were not exposed to arsenic.

"In this study, we show that chronic low-dose arsenic exposure can profoundly alter the response to influenza A (H1N1) infection [in mice]," wrote Kozul and colleagues. "Understanding the role of arsenic in response to such viral challenges [in humans] will be important in the overall assessment of the public health risk."

March 17, 2009

SBRP Student Wins Awards at Society of Toxicology Meeting

SBRP-Dartmouth student Courtney Kozul won four awards at this year's Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting, held in Baltimore, MD, March 15-19, 2009.

Kozul's research, exploring the effects of chronic low doses of arsenic ingested via drinking water, earned her the Women in Toxicology Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund Student Award, the Northeast Society of Toxicology 3rd place Graduate Student Travel Award, the Molecular Biology Specialty Section 1st Place Graduate Student Research Competition, and a graduate student travel award from the meeting organizers.

The awards point to the quality of research and caliber of students trained by the SBRP. According to Josh Hamilton, Kozul's research advisor and professor in the Dartmouth Medical School Pharmacology and Toxicology Graduate Program, "The success of her project also highlights how the interdisciplinary environment of the Superfund Training Program fosters high-caliber, innovative and highly translational science that addresses real-world problems."

January 2009

Josh Hamilton Recognized by the NIEHS for his innovative work on asenic and endocrine disruption

Josh Hamilton, Ph.D., Dartmouth College SBRP, was the first to report that arsenic is a potent endocrine disrupter and that endocrine disruption is one of the principal means by which arsenic is able to influence a wide array of disease risks, including various cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and developmental problems.

January 26,2009

Piven case reinforces mercury warnings

WHAT DOES the actor Jeremy Piven have in common with over 300 million gallons of sludge, recently spilled from the waste pond of a coal-fired power plant in Tennessee?

Both have moved mercury from a lower rung in the Periodic Table of the Elements back into the headlines. Piven recently withdrew from the Broadway production of "Speed the Plow," citing health problems associated with mercury poisoning resulting from eating sushi twice a day over many years. Many have cast doubt on Piven's illness and suggest he is attempting to use mercury poisoning as an excuse to step down from a role he didn't wish to play. Full Story