The overarching goal of the UNC-CH Superfund Research Program is to understand the environmental and human health risks associated with hazardous waste sites and, ultimately, to devise strategies for the remediation of such sites in order to minimize these risks.
By better understanding the human health and environmental effects associated with hazardous waste sites, we will be able to improve how risks are calculated and communicated. Likewise, by understanding what factors regulate the fate and transport of toxic chemicals, it should be possible to reduce exposure and devise more effective clean-up strategies.
Through the combination of accurate estimates of risk for different levels of exposure, reliable predictions of chemical fate and transport, and effective clean-up strategies, it will be possible to develop more effective methods for site remediation which protect both public and environmental health.
The primary objective of the UNC-CH SRP is to develop the scientific bases that are necessary to implement biologically-based risk assessments for several chemicals on the National Priorities List.
We accomplish this objective by:
clarifying sources of toxic chemicals and how they interact with the body in order to improve the accuracy of exposure and risk assessments for hazardous chemicals;
evaluating the relationship among relevant chemical exposures likely to occur at Superfund sites, the body's response to different amounts of these chemicals, and the ways in which these chemicals act on the body;
identifying and characterizing the biological signals that show a body has been exposed to a specific chemical (i.e. - biomarkers of exposure) to enhance determinations of the way a chemical affects the body;
using exposure and risk assessment to identify how much a contaminated area must be cleaned up to protect human and environmental health;
evaluating and understanding how variations in people's genes impact their responses to hazardous chemicals;
applying new molecular and analytical tools within a systems biology framework to understand critical pathways for environmental disease and bioremediation; and,
evaluating cleanup methods, in complex systems that mimic conditions in the field, for their potential to reduce overall exposure to hazardous chemicals and the risk associated with that exposure.
We accomplish our task through the investigations in five research projects and four supporting cores.
program is comprised of five integrated research projects (three
biomedical and two non-biomedical) and four support cores that serve to
conduct research, train new scientists and engineers familiar with
interdisciplinary research, and carry our results to a broad and diverse
audience of scientists, regulators, legislators and concerned public.