CHEEC Seed Grants: FY 2008

Predicting Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality by Indirect Methods
Investigator: N. Kumar, Department of Geography, University of Iowa

Effect of Agricultural Pesticides on Prostate Cancer Progression
Investigators: M. Henry, Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and C. Lynch, Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa

Transformation and Fate of Manufactured Metal Nanoparticles in Aqueous Environments
Investigator: V.Grassian, Department of Chemistry, University of Iowa

Evaluation of Adenovirus Real-Time and Conventional PCR Assays to Detect Fecal Contamination in Water and to Identify Its Source
Investigators: M. Chorazy and G. Gray,Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa

Evaluation of Enterococci and Bacteroides Real Time PCR Assays for Measuring Recreational Water Quality in Iowa with a Source Tracking Perspective 
Investigators: L. DesJardin, and N. Hall, University Hygienic Laboratory, University of Iowa

A molecular Microbiological Search for Active Biphenyl Dioxygenases in Polychlorinated Biphenyl-contaminated Sediments
Investigators: T. Mattes and K. Hornbuckle Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iowa 

 


Predicting Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality by Indirect Methods
Investigator: N. Kumar, Department of Geography, University of Iowa
This research aims to develop indirect measures of indoor and outdoor air pollution, which can be used for computing personal exposure by linking an individual’s time-activity diary with the indirect estimates of indoor and outdoor air pollutions. Building on current research, satellite remote sensing will be used to estimate ambient air pollution at a household location. Imputing indoor air pollution, however, can be challenging. In this research indirect measures of indoor air quality will be identified by evaluating the indoor air pollution with reference to household characteristics, such cooking and heating fuel, flooring type, number of occupants, exchange of air between indoor and outdoor environments and ambient air pollution at the household location. The study will sample indoor and outdoor air quality, measured by fine and coarse particles (PM2.5, PM10, PM10-2.5), in 33 households in and around Iowa City during the fall 2008 and spring 2009. An incremental optimal sampling design will be adopted to draw the sample of households, which will capture more than 95% of the total variability in ambient air pollution. Particulates of different sizes will be monitored for a week in and outside of each household, and a brief questionnaire will be administered to collect the data on household characteristics. The analyses of these data using standard statistical methods will allow us to determine indirect measures of indoor air pollution.

Effect of Agricultural Pesticides on Prostate Cancer Progression
Investigators: M. Henry, Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and C. Lynch, Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa
The Agricultural Health Study (AHS) associated exposure to certain pesticides with increased prostate cancer risk in individuals with a first-degree family history of prostate cancer. These findings indicate that exposure to these environmental contaminants may interact with a genetic predisposition toward prostate cancer, but the biologic mechanism(s) by which this might occur remain unclear. This information is critical not only for better defining the risks posed by these pesticides for farm workers and others exposed to these chemicals, but also may advance our understanding of prostate cancer progression in the general population. Experimental exploration of the mechanistic links between pesticide exposure and prostate cancer progression will be difficult in humans. Therefore, the objective of this proposal is to test whether exposure to organophosphorothioates accelerates prostate cancer progression in a mouse model genetically predisposed to develop premalignant prostate lesions (B6:PTEN/luc) in order to establish an experimental platform for exploring these links.

Publication:  Svensson RU, Haverkamp JM, Thedens DR, Cohen MB, Ratliff TL, Henry M. Slow disease progression in a C57BL/6 Pten-deficient mouse model of prostate cancer. Am J Pathol.2011; 179(1):502-512

Transformation and Fate of Manufactured Metal Nanoparticles in Aqueous Environments
Investigator: V.Grassian, Department of Chemistry, University of Iowa
This study is designed to provide the data needed to predict the environmental fate and human health effects of commercially manufactured nanoparticles in aqueous solution. With the widespread development of nanoscience and nanotechnology, nanoparticles represent a potential emerging contaminant. The main objectives of the research are to determine under what environmental conditions do manufactured metal nanoparticles of different size and composition aggregate in solution and under what conditions do metal nanoparticles dissolve? Complementary studies to investigate the fundamental surface properties and surface chemistry of metal nanoparticles will be done as surface properties control both nanoparticle aggregation and dissolution as well as nanoparticle-biological interactions. These data can then be used to predict the environmental fate of commercial nanoparticles and are important in assessing the human health effects associated with these materials.

Evaluation of Adenovirus Real-Time and Conventional PCR Assays to Detect Fecal Contamination in Water and to Identify Its Source
Investigators: M. Chorazy and G. Gray,Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa
Fecal contamination of water is a significant public health concern. The primary objective of this proposal is to determine the usefulness of adenovirus as an indicator of fecal contamination and its potential for fecal sourcetracking. This objective will be addressed by the following aims: (1) to improve upon and validate a PCR algorithm to detect human and animal adenoviruses in fecal waste and water, (2) to conduct surveys of adenoviruses in cattle and swine stool in order to determine the usefulness of adenovirus as a source-tracking organism, and (3) to estimate the prevalence of human and animal adenoviruses at impaired and transitional Iowa beaches and to identify parameters associated with adenovirus in surface water. Results from this study will be used to further develop rapid methods to detect adenoviruses in water and accurately identify sources of contamination which would be informative to risk assessment and risk management practices. Technical Report Available.

Evaluation of Enterococci and Bacteroides Real Time PCR Assays for Measuring Recreational Water Quality in Iowa with a Source Tracking Perspective 
Investigators: L. DesJardin, and N. Hall, University Hygienic Laboratory, University of Iowa
Enterococci are recognized by the U.S. EPA as indicator organisms to assess water quality in fresh and marine waters. Although enterococci are a robust indicator of fecal contamination in marine waters, interpretation of elevated levels in fresh waters is less clear. Because enterococci can originate from plants or sewage, it is important to understand the source of the enterococci as it relates to swimmers’ health. It may be that the species of Enterococcus present, rather than total Enterococcus spp., more accurately indicates the public health risk. This project will evaluate four real-time qPCR methods for enterococci and Bacteriodes and apply these methods to monitor ten Iowa beaches with elevated levels of enterococci and/or E. coli. This study will determine if the rapid total enterococci qPCR method can serve as a surrogate for the standard EPA culture method and if all four rapid tests will be able to track the source of the enterococci.

A Molecular Microbiological Search for Active Biphenyl Dioxygenases in Polychlorinated Biphenyl-contaminated Sediments
Investigators: T. Mattes and K. Hornbuckle Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iowa
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are toxic, carcinogenic, and bioaccumulative compounds that are often found in lake and river soils and sediments. PCBs in soils and sediments represent a human health risk, especially if natural processes promote PCB volatilization and subsequent exposure to humans. Biodegradation of PCBs would reduce the risk of adverse human health effects, but this process is poorly understood in sediments. The objective of this research is to test the hypothesis that aerobic, PCB-degrading bacteria are present and active in PCB-contaminated sediments from Indiana Harbor. Preliminary studies revealed aerobic PCB biodegradation potential, but additional experiments are needed to determine if PCB-degraders are active in these sediments. An array of experimental approaches, some of which are innovative, involving reverse-transcription (RT)-PCR, real-time RT-PCR, proteomics, and metabolite analysis are proposed.

Publication:  Liang Y, Martinez A, Hornbuckle KC, Mattes TE. Potential for polychlorinated biphenyl biodegradation in sediments from the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal. Int Biodeterior Biodegradation. 2014; 1;89:50-57