2016 News Archive


Bill Introduced in Maine Legislature to Increase Arsenic Testing in Private Wells

A bipartisan bill was introduced recently in the Maine legislature which aims to increase the rate of testing for arsenic in private wells throughout the state. Currently less than half of the state's households that rely on well water test for arsenic. See coverage in Portland Press Herald.

Study to Examine Level of Arsenic in People Near Yellowknife Mines

Researchers are planning an extensive, ongoing study to determine the concentrations of arsenic and other contaminants in people who live near mines in the Yellowknife, Northwest Territories area of Canada. Beginning next fall samples from 1500 to 2000 people will be collected. For additional information.


Professor James Dearing Speaks at November 1 Superfund Meeting

Professor James Dearing, Chairperson, Michigan State University Department of Communications, presented on "Applying Dissemination and Implementation Science to Superfund Research Projects" at our November 1 Dartmouth Superfund Program meeting. He left us with a better understanding of diffusion theory and looking forward to applying what we have learned to our work.


Laurie Rardin Gives Talk on Importance of Testing Wells

On October 17, Dartmouth Superfund Program Research Translation Coordinator, Laurie Rardin, gave a talk on the importance of testing wells for arsenic and other contaminants to 20 community members in Lyndeborough, NH, with Cindy Klevens from the NH Department of Environmental Services and Lou Barinelli from the NH State Public Health Lab.

Bruce Stanton Participated in NIEHS Superfund Research Program "Risk e-Learning Program"

On October 31, Dartmouth SRP Director Bruce Stanton, Ph.D, participated in a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program “Risk e-Learning” program as a presenter in the webinar series. The series focused on the interactions between environmental exposures and infectious agents. Dr. Stanton spoke about his work related to the effects of arsenic on Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in the lung which adversely affect the innate immune response.

Kathrin Lawlor Presented at APHA Annual Meeting

Kathrin Lawlor, our Community Engagement Coordinator, presented a poster titled, "Study to evaluate private well testing behavior leads to resource to empower communities to ensure safe drinking water," at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting on October 31 in Denver, CO. For information on the October 29-November 2 annual meeting.

New Book Explores Use of Arsenic in the Victorian Era

The widespread use of Arsenic in the Victorian Era is explored in the new book Bitten by Witch Fever by Lucinda Hawksley. An article in the Atlantic Monthly includes an interview with the book's author.


Director Bruce Stanton Interviewed About Arsenic

Dartmouth Superfund Program Director Bruce Stanton was interviewed about arsenic in drinking water and treatment options on WABI-TV in Maine. The segment aired on September 22 and was done in cooperation with the Mt Desert Island Marine Biological Lab. .Interview.

EPA Implements New Chemical Reform Legislation

The U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has begun implementing the "Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act." The legislation, which was signed into law on June 22, 2016, is intended to reform TSCA (the Toxic Substances Control Act). Click here for additional information about the Act and EPAs implementation steps, and to sign up for updates.

Shannon Rogers New CEC Leader

Welcome to Shannon Rogers who is the new Dartmouth Superfund Program Community Engagement Core Leader. Shannon is a graduate of Dartmouth College's Environmental Studies Program and has a Ph.D. in Resource Administration and Management from UNH. Her expertise includes stakeholder participation in natural resource and decision-making and community-based research. Shannon's bio.


Director Stanton Leads Science Café on Arsenic in Water

Dartmouth SRP Director Bruce Stanton, Ph.D., spoke about arsenic and drinking water at MDI Biological Laboratory's Science Café in Bar Harbor, ME on August 22. Approximately 80 people attended the Café which can be viewed on Youtube.

Increase in Water Testing Rates Tied to Community-Driven Intervention

A partnership between the Tuftonboro Conservation Commission and Dartmouth's Superfund Research Program (SRP) has resulted in an increase in the rate of water testing by NH private well owners. According to SRP Community Engagement Core Leader Mark Borsuk, this finding is significant because "drinking water contaminants such as arsenic have been linked to adverse health effects, including cancer." Full story.

Methylmercury Found in Southern Ocean Sea Ice

An international team of researchers has found that sea-ice bacteria in the Southern Ocean can change mercury into Methylmercury, a more toxic form that can contaminate the marine environment and travel to the brain of fetuses, infants and children if ingested. See findings in ScienceDaily.


NHDES Local Source Water Protection Grant Applications Available for 2017

Applications are available to apply for 2017 grants from the NH Department of Environmental Services for funding to develop and implement programs to protect existing public drinking water sources. The application deadline is November 1, 2016. For additional information and application documents.

Applied Bioinformatics Course Held at the MDI Biological Lab in Maine, July 23-28

The Mt. Desert Island Biological Lab in ME partnered with the Dartmouth SRP and Director Bruce Stanton to run a course on Applied Bioinformatics. The goal of the course, which had twenty-four participants, was to provide hands-on training with major bioinformatics resources while developing a conceptual framework to foster successful application of the bioinformatic skill set to biological research.

NIEHS Webinar Featured Mark Borsuk Speaking on Arsenic and Well Testing

The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) presented the fourth session in the Risk e-Learning series SRP Water Innovation - An Integrated Approach to Sustainable Solutions on July 21. The session, Communicating Risk and Engaging Communities: Arsenic and Well Testing, had 443 total participants and highlighted efforts by several SRP Centers to engage communities on private water related to well testing and treatment alternatives. Our Community Engagement Core Leader, Mark Borsuk spoke about barriers to well testing, and efforts to encourage testing of arsenic in private wells and empower well-water users with the tools they need to keep their drinking water safe.

Margaret Karagas Guest on NHPR Show on Mapping Incidence of Cancer

Superfund researcher Margaret Karagas was a guest on NHPR's (NH Public Radio) July 5 "The Exchange" radio program on mapping incidences of different types of cancer in northern New England. Dr. Karagas discussed the relationship between the level of arsenic in private wells and the rate of bladder cancer. Listen to show. Click on link below first paragraph.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Report on Arsenic Levels in Beverages, Food

A Report by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency examines the analysis of beverage and food samples collected from Canadian retail stores for levels of inorganic and organic arsenic. The Report concludes that "the levels of arsenic in the products tested in this survey were not considered to pose a concern to human health."

Elevated Levels of Arsenic Found in Epping, NH Well Water

Water testing in Epping, NH has found elevated levels of arsenic in recent samples taken from the new town well. According to a story in the NH Union Leader, the contamination is not considered an emergency by the town, and an arsenic removal system will be installed in the future.


Water Management May Reduce Effects of Climate Change on Rice Production and Arsenic Uptake by Rice Plants in Asia

According to Dennis Wichelns, Senior Fellow of Thailand-Based Stockholm Environment Institute, adapting the practice of "de-watering" by farmers in Asia will reduce the effects of climate change on rice production, as well reduce arsenic uptake by rice plants. "De-watering" involves removing water from rice paddies at least once during the growing season. See full story.

FDA Finds Excessive Amounts of Arsenic in Apple Juice from Yakima Valley Processor

The Seattle Times reports that the FDA has found almost nine times the allowed limit in samples of apple juice taken from a Yakima Valley, WA processor. Prolonged exposure to high levels of inorganic arsenic has been associated with a number of health conditions.


Mary Lou Guerinot Elected to National Academy of Sciences!!

Dr. Guerinot's election to the National Academy of Sciences is one of the highest honors in science. "Mary Lou Guerinot exemplifies the best of our Dartmouth faculty, and this is a well-deserved honor," says Provost Carolyn Dever. Read details.

Elevated Bladder Cancer Risk in New England Linked to Arsenic in Drinking Water from Private Wells

A new study from the National Cancer Institute shows that drinking water from private wells may have contributed to elevated risk of bladder cancer in New England. Dartmouth Superfund researcher, Dr. Margaret Karagas, participated in the study. National Cancer Institute press release; NH DES press release.


Drinking Water Forum in Maine

On April 24, a community forum on drinking water issues will be convened by the Environmental Health Strategy Center/Prevent Harm in Rockport, ME. A panel of speakers will discuss the problem of arsenic in well water from different perspectives.

Researcher Margaret Karagas Quoted in NY Times on FDA Proposed Limit for Arsenic in Rice Cereal

Dr. Margaret Karagas provided comments to the NY Times on the FDA's proposed action level for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal.


Bruce Stanton Presented at 2016 SOT Annual Meeting

Bruce Stanton, Ph.D., presented at the SOT (Society of Toxicology) 2016 Annual Meeting in March as part of a workshop entitled Moving beyond cancer: current state of the science of noncancer health effects of arsenic. His talk focused on arsenic and pulmonary infections.

US Supreme Court Rejects Attempt to Stay MATS

The US Supreme Court has rejected a petition by 20 states to temporarily halt enforcement by the EPA of regulations that limit heavy metal pollution from oil- and coal-fired power plants. Led by Michigan, the states had asked the Court to stay the Mercury Air Toxics Standard — commonly referred to as MATS — while the D.C. Circuit court considers its legality. See article in Climate Progress .

Tulane Professor Tests for Arsenic in Rural LA Drinking Water

Research conducted by Tulane University geochemistry professor Karen Johannesson has found the presence of arsenic in parts of rural LA to be at least 10 times higher than EPA standards of less than 10 parts per billion. While the amount is significantly less than what she and her colleagues found in the Bengal Basin of India , she says that it is alarming nonetheless, as arsenic is associated with an array of health issues. Dr. Johannesson's team's paper on arsenic in shallow groundwater from the Napoleonville, LA site recently was accepted for publication in the Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies.

Dartmouth Researchers find Potential Link between in Utero Arsenic Exposure and Growth in Developing Fetuses

New research published in Environmental Health Perspectives, details a study led by Diane Gilbert-Diamond with Margaret Karagas as senior author, which looks at the relation between in utero arsenic exposure and birth outcomes in a cohort of mothers and their newborns from New Hampshire.


YouTube Video Highlights Student Dragonfly Work

The YouTube video "Outside Science (inside parks): Blue Skies and Dragonflies" highlights student citizen science research collecting dragonfly larvae. The larvae are indicators of pollution, and are used to study the amount of mercury present in the environment. Their research is similar to our SRP Dragonfly project and is part of the US-wide dragonfly research collaboration that researcher Celia Chen is involved with.

Investigators Find High Concentrations of Toxic Metals in Whales

Investigations led by the University of Aberdeen, in collaboration with the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, have shown that a pod of beached whales had high concentrations of mercury and cadmium, including in their brains. The level of these toxic metals in the whales increased with their age. Scientists found mercury at levels high enough to cause severe neurological damage in humans and demonstrated for the first time that the toxic element cadmium can cross the blood-brain barrier in adults. See article in The Press and Journal.

Dartmouth SRP Paper Selected as NIEHS Research Brief

The paper,which was published in PLoS One and examines the effects of low dose organic arsenic (MMA) exposure on the immune system in the lung, has been chosen by NIEHS as a research brief.

Researcher Brian Jackson Quoted on Effects of Arsenic Levels in Rice Snacks

"If you are a person who is eating rice every day, and also snacking on rice products, then that five micrograms from rice crackers becomes significant. If once a month, not so much," Brian Jackson, a research associate professor and the director of Dartmouth's Trace Metal Analysis Core Facility, tells The Daily Meal in a story about arsenic levels in the snacks and whether they pose a risk to people. Read more.


Dr's Guerinot & Punshon's Award Winning Image Featured

Mary Lou Guerinot is featured in a Dartmouth news video discussing hers and Tracy Punshon's FAESB Bio-Art competition award winning image of zinc in an Arabidopsis plant. They also were featured in the NIEHS Director's Blog on January 21. Their entry will be displayed in the NIH Visitors Center.

Study on Lentils Can Counteract Arsenic Poisoning in Bangladesh

Researchers at the University of Calgary are studying whether Saskatchewan-grown lentils can counteract the effects of chronic arsenic poisoning from well water in Bangladesh. This problem affects up to 77 million people in that country and has been called "the worst case of mass poisoning in the world" by the World Health Organization (WHO). The study is described on the CBCNews web site.

FDA Withdraws Approval of Arsenic-based Nitarsone in Animal Feed

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has withdrawn approval of the use of Nitarsone in animal feed as of December 31, 2015 as reported on the FDA website.