2015 News Archive


Director Bruce Stanton Seminar Speaker for MIT Science Journalism Fellows

Bruce Stanton was invited by writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Deborah Blum, Director of the Knight Science Journalism (KSJ) Fellowship Program at MIT, to give a seminar as part of the KSJ Seminar Series. He presented on December 1 on Arsenic in ground water in New England and related health issues, to all the fellows as well as undergrads and faculty.

Guerinot and Punshon Win BioArt Competiton

Mary Lou Guerinot and Tracy Punshon are part of a winning team for the 4th annual BioArt competition run by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Their entry will be displayed in the National Institutes of Health Visitor Center next year. A listing of all of the winners can be found in the press release. The winning images and videos can be viewed here.

Celia Chen Interviewed on Research on Mercury and the Environment

Celia Chen was interviewed by KSJD Community Radio in Colorado about her research on mercury in the environment, how it gets into the fish in our lakes and rivers, and its potential impacts on human health. Her 20 minute interview ran on November 17. The website for the interview also features our short video on mercury, "Mercury: From Source to Seafood".

C-FARR Workshop Nov. 2-3

Over 35 researchers and policy stakeholders attended a two-day workshop in Hanover, NH for the Collaborative on Food with Arsenic and associated Risk and Regulation (C-FARR). The group discussed the issue of arsenic in food and the ways in which the science can better inform policy to protect public health.

Superfund Researcher Margaret Karagas Publishes Paper on Recommendations for Rice Consumption by Children and Pregnant Women

The article, Arsenic and Rice: Translating Research to Address Health Care Providers' Needs, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, recommends that health care providers consider counseling families about ways to decrease arsenic exposure from rice. This recommendation is made because of the potential harmful health effects of arsenic exposure by children and pregnant women due to the high levels of arsenic in rice and rice products.


11/18-20/2015 NIEHS SRP Annual Meeting in Puerto Rico

The Superfund Research Program Annual Meeting was hosted by Northeastern University in San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 18-20. Participants shared information and learned about PROTECT, the Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats. Dartmouth gave three talks and presented nine posters. Talks included Tom Hampton moderating a session on big data, Vivien Taylor presenting her KC Donnelly work, and Mark Borsuk presenting on the private well work accomplished with NHDES under a CDC grant. Kathrin Lawlor co-led a workgroup session on Online Communication, and Laurie Rardin was involved with organizing a workgroup session on Evaluation.

Chen presents as part of The Toxicity of Power

Celia Chen, Ph.D., was invited by the Duke Superfund Research Center to present as part of the Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program Fall Symposium,“The Toxicity of Power.”. Her talk, “Mercury Pollution: From Power Plants to Human Exposure,” was part of a day-long meeting bringing together scientists, students, regulators and the concerned public to highlight specific toxicological problems from a range of energy producing activities and to discuss ways in which these problems can be minimized.
Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program Fall Symposium, “The Toxicity of Power.”

Pregnant Women Exposed to Arsenic More Likely to Have Kids Prone to Infection

The International Business Times reported on continued coverage of research conducted by Margaret Karagas, chair and professor of epidemiology and professor of community and family medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, who is the senior author of a study that examines the effects on arsenic exposure on children before birth. The article also notes that the study was led by Shohreh Farzan, a post-doctoral fellow in the department of epidemiology.


Kit Developed to Test Rice for Arsenic

An article in Chemical Engineering and News (C&EN) describes a kit that can be used by producers to test rice for arsenic before their product goes to market. Jorg Feldmann of the University of Aberdeen and his colleagues have adapted a commercial field kit called the Arsenator so that it can be used to test levels of inorganic arsenic. The article quotes Superfund Researcher Brian Jackson on the importance and anticipated demand for the Arsenator test kit.

Superfund Researchers Study Mercury Contamination in Vermont Vernal Pools

Program researchers, Dr. Vivien Taylor and Dr. Kate Buckman, are studying potential mercury contamination in several Vermont vernal pools. Their research focuses on the potential harmful effects of mercury as it is transferred up the invertebrate food web and through the terrestrial environment. Coverage on page 27 "The Norwich Times".

Dartmouth Partners with NH, ME Schools & Mt. Desert Island Biological Lab to Promote Arsenic Testing in Private Wells

The Dartmouth Superfund Research Program's Community Engagement Core will be the liaison for the NH schools involved with a project to increase the number of homeowners who test their wells for arsenic levels. As part of an EPA Education Grant, students and several area organizations in NH and Hancock County, Maine are collaborating to distribute kits which test arsenic levels in private wells. Dartmouth's Trace Element Analysis Core will analyze the water samples for arsenic. See story in the Ellsworth American.

Studies Report on Threat of Arsenic in Red Wine

Two studies by Denise Wilson of the University of Washington have found that the threat of arsenic in red wines is low unless the wine is consumed along with a large amount of other contaminated foods. The findings are described in an article in the Boston Globe.

Oregon Health Officials Expand Consumption Advisory for Clams

Oregon health officials have expanded a consumption advisory for clams dug along the Oregon coast due to high levels of arsenic found in gaper clams according to an article in the Statesman Journal.


Problem When Water in Underground Storage Aquifers is Too Pure

Research by scientists from Stanford University has shown that water stored in underground aquifers in Southern California is picking up trace amounts of arsenic because it is too pure. Their findings, which are described in Stanford News, may have global global implications according to Scott Fendorf, C-FARR author and Huffington Family Professor in Earth Sciences at Stanford.

September is National Rice Month

September has been designated as National Rice Month to recognize the importance of this crop in the American diet.


Dartmouth Children's Center Collaborates on Digital Story on Arsenic in Food

The Community Outreach and Translation Core of the Dartmouth Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center has created a digital web page that explains how arsenic gets into our food supply and provides simple tips for reducing arsenic exposure. The project, which was done in collaboration with Dartmouth's Computer Science Department, was created in response to growing concern about the health effects of low-level arsenic exposure in food.

Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment & Health 2015

Dr. Celia Chen attended the conference in Indonesia August 10-13 and presented the talk, Connecting Mercury Science to Policy: From Sources to Seafood.


U.S. EPA Environmental Education Grant Award Addresses Arsenic in Private Wells

Our Community Engagement Core serves as the NH Partner for an EPA Environmental Education grant led by the Mt. Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Maine which will focus on helping to eliminate arsenic from drinking water in ME and NH. The partners will create and pilot a national model of environmental education that facilitates schools and community organizations working together to address the public health risks of exposure to toxic contaminants in drinking water, while offering teachers and students opportunities to participate in authentic research.

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center Water Matters Speaker Series

On July 28, Laurie Rardin gave a talk on arsenic in private well water in NH as part of the Squam Lakes Science Center Water Matters Speaker Series. Rardin partnered with Andrew Stone, the Executive Director of the American Groundwater Trust, who spoke about the ways in which NH geology, well construction and human activity can result in groundwater contamination.

Researchers Discover Cooking Method for Removing Arsenic from Rice

Researchers have found a method for cooking rice that can remove much of the stored arsenic. This is important because rice is one of the world's most popular foods. The story in Nature includes a quote from Margaret Karagas, a Dartmouth epidemiologist and Superfund Program researcher, that the method gives "...people an opportunity to reduce the arsenic burden of their rice".

Failure to Reapply Spells End to Federal Funding for Well Tests in Maine

The State of Maine's decision not to reapply for a grant means that a federally funded program aimed at increasing well water testing in rural Maine will end in August, according to an article in the Portland Press Hearld: Failure to reapply spells end to federal funding for well tests.

Dartmouth Scientists Track Mercury Pollution

The recent Dartmouth Now story highlights work done by Sam Beal, former Trainee of the Dartmouth SRP under the mentorship of Brian Jackson, Ph.D. who was his co-advisor. The analysis of a 600-year-old ice core shows that global mercury pollution increased dramatically during the 20th century, but that mercury concentrations in the atmosphere decreased faster than previously thought beginning in the late 1970s.

Private Well Outreach Events Underway

Our Community Engagement Team has begun a series of events to reach out to private well owners in six communities in Southeastern NH to tell them about the potential for arsenic in their drinking water and make it easier for them to test their water for arsenic and other contaminants. Union Leader Story


Three Simple Rules for Eating Seafood from NY Times Opinion Column -

Eat American; different kinds; mostly farmed filter feeders, like oysters. Read more...

Researchers Travel to Artic to Search for Missing Mercury

Researchers will be travelling to the Artic this summer to investigate mercury changes in that region because of concern about the toxic effects of mercury.

NAC-SETAC Meeting Focuses on Risk Communication

The North Atlantic Chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry held its annual meeting June 10-12 in Freeport, ME. A short course on communicating environmental risk was led by David Ropeik, a consultant in risk communication. Day 1 of the meeting featured a session on risk communication and outreach organized and led by Celia Chen, Ph.D., with a presentation by Laurie Rardin on the challenges of communicating arsenic risk to private well owners in NH.

NIEHS-Funded Research Focuses on Arsenic's Impact on Public Health

Science Pub at Oregon State University discusses research on health risks of water contamination by arsenic.

HB 498 - Radon and Arsenic Legislation Becomes Law in NH

This legislation requires notification by the seller to the buyer before a contract for the purchase and sale of a property occurs that “arsenic is a common groundwater contaminant in New Hampshire that occurs at unhealthy levels in well water in many areas of the state. Tests are available to determine whether arsenic is present at unsafe levels, and equipment is available to remove it from water. The buyer is encouraged to consult the New Hampshire department of environmental services private well testing recommendations (www.des.nh.gov) to ensure a safe water supply if the subject property is served by a private well.”


Valley News Column on Importance of Testing Private Wells for Arsenic

In a recent ,Valley News column, Dr. Carolyn Murray stressed the importance of homeowners having their private wells tested for arsenic levels. Dr. Murray is the Director of Community Outreach for Dartmouth's Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center and a professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

Legislation to Limit Inorganic Arsenic in Rice Introduced in Congress

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT) has introduced the R.I.C.E. Act which sets federal limits on the amount of inorganic arsenic in rice and rice-based foods. Inorganic arsenic is the most toxic form of arsenic found in foods.

Consumer Reports Calls for Stricter Federal Guidelines on Consumption of Tuna

In its June issue, Consumer Reports calls for stricter federal guidelines on the consumption of tuna due to a concern about the health risks of increased mercury levels in tuna and other fish.

Arsenic Poses Risks for Private Wells

An article in the Perham Focus (Minnesota) describes risks of water contamination in private wells by arsenic.

Celia Chen Participated in "A Fish Tale: A Review of the Science of Fish Contamination, Consumption, and Advisories"

As part of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment national partnership call series, Celia Chen, Ph.D. presented her work on Factors Controlling Mercury Fate in Aquatic Food Webs.


FDA Expects to Withdraw Approval for Last Food-Animal Drug Containing Arsenic

Read More

Superfund Research Brief - Switchgrass & Bacteria Remove PCBs from Soil

Read More


Washington Post Reports on Hidden Benefits of Cutting Coal Pollution

Washington Post article. Click here for additional information on mercury.

Director Stanton Quoted in Huffington Post on Arsenic Levels in Wine

The Huffington Post reports on California winemakers sued over arsenic levels in wine. Huffington Post article

Why Is There Arsenic in Wine Anyway?

Fox News story discusses research led by Kathryn Cottingham, professor of biological sciences, which found that white wine and beer significantly raised people's arsenic levels.

Researcher Brian Jackson in NYT on Arsenic in Rice Crackers

Brian Jackson, Ph.D. speaks to Deborah Blum for the NYT Column Ask Well; Dartmouth Now Coverage

Trainee Kate Buckman Leads New Paper on Berlin, NH Superfund Site

Coverage includes:
Environmental Monitor
Science Daily
Phys Org
and online in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.


Record Number Attend Science Pub on Metals in Food

Eighty people attended the Pub on a cold, snowy evening. Questions and conversation focused on arsenic in food particularly rice, with additional questions on mercury in fish. The panelists conveyed the importance of limiting exposure to arsenic and mercury (which includes testing private well water) while continuing to eat a healthy diet including rice and fish. But is it Safe to Eat? What to Make of Those Food Studies

Superfund Researchers Present to NH Farm Bureau February 19

Celia Chen, RTC Leader and Kathrin Lawlor, CEC Coordinator, presented an overview of our SRP Center research and discussed NH Farm Bureau needs and questions relative to our studies of arsenic and mercury.

CBS News Story on Arsenic in Rice

CBS news coverage discusses FDA studies and health implications of eating rice over long term. CBS Coverage


Dragonfly Project at Gorham High School

Gorham High School science teacher Sarah Clemmitt received a Tillotson grant which allowed her class to continue their work with the Dartmouth SRP and the dragon fly citizen science project to measure mercury levels near the Berlin Superfund site. Berlin Daily Sun Article

Valley News Coverage of the Dragon Fly Citizen Scientist Project

The Dartmouth Superfund Program has been working with local high schools and the Schoodic Institute to study dragon fly larvae as an indicator of mercury levels in the environment. Valley News Article