CHEEC Seed Grants: FY 2014

Simple and fast detection of pathogens in recreational waters
Investigators: R. Cademartiri, Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Iowa State University; M. Soupir, Department of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University

Toxicity of organophosphate and carbamate pesticides for neuronal and non-neuronal cells
Investigators: J. Doorn, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Iowa

Estimating prenatal exposure to lead in Iowa newborns
Investigator: A. Saftlas, K. Ryckman, Department of Epidemiology, The University of Iowa

Naturally-occurring radioactivity liberated by new natural gas mining technologies: A pilot study of the geochemical partitioning and potential for radionuclide migration and exposure to higher organisms and humans
Investigator: M. Schultz, Departments of Radiology and Radiation Oncology, The University of Iowa; T. Forbes, Department of Chemistry, The University of Iowa  

 


Simple and fast detection of pathogens in recreational waters
Investigators: R. Cademartiri, Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Iowa State University; M. Soupir, Department of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University 
Harmful microorganisms are the leading cause of water quality impairments in the United States, and are thought to be responsible for 900,000 illnesses and 900 deaths per year. Quick and accurate detection techniques are badly needed to better identify waters posing a risk to human health. The objective of this study is to generate preliminary data in three important areas for the development of a paper-based test for the detection of pathogens in recreational waters: 1) the stability of bacteriophages on paper, 2) the pre-concentration of bacteria in water samples, and 3) the development of a sensitive colorimetric assay for bacteria on paper. The development of a paper-based device for detection of water-borne pathogens will provide information on the presence of pathogens in recreational waters at low-cost in a short period of time and can be used by volunteer groups, beach managers, and other public health officials.

Toxicity of organophosphate and carbamate pesticides for neuronal and non-neuronal cells
Investigator: J. Doorn, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Iowa
Organophosphate (OP) and carbamate pesticides are widely used in agriculture. Acute exposure to high doses may cause cholinergic toxicity; however, recent work demonstrates that exposure to low levels causes adverse effects in humans from neurological deficits to oxidative stress/reactive oxygen species (ROS). The mechanism for this “non-canonical” toxicity is unknown but concerning given the ubiquitous nature of OP and carbamates in the environment and significant human exposure. Such adverse consequences are likely due to effects of these pesticides on cell types found in the brain other than cholinergic neurons, such as other neurons or glial cells (non-neuronal). The goal of this project is to determine which neuron types (i.e., cholinergic, glutamatergic, dopaminergic) or non-neuronal cells (i.e., astrocyte) are most sensitive to OP and carbamate pesticides, yielding toxicity and/or oxidative stress/ROS. In addition, the investigator seeks to identify the insulting species of the OP agent, i.e., phosphorothioate or bioactive oxon metabolite.

Estimating prenatal exposure to lead in Iowa newborns 
Investigator: A. Saftlas, K. Ryckman, Department of Epidemiology, The University of Iowa
Lead is a highly potent human toxicant that readily crosses the placenta of the developing fetus and impairs the development and function of multiple organ systems. Developing effective methods for measuring prenatal lead exposure and identifying women at risk for high lead levels in pregnancy is an essential public health priority. This pilot project will: 1) estimate the correlation of lead concentrations measured from 50 paired newborn dried blood spot and fetal cord blood samples; and 2) identify geographical “hot spots” for prenatal lead exposure in Iowa based on a consecutive sample of 1,866 Iowa newborns with lead concentrations measured from newborn blood spot cards. These pilot data will be used to design a larger investigation with the objectives of establishing baseline levels of lead exposure in newborns and identifying high-risk subgroups for intervention.

Naturally-occurring radioactivity liberated by new natural gas mining technologies: A pilot study of the geochemical partitioning and potential for radionuclide migration and exposure to higher organisms and humans
Investigators: M. Schultz, Departments of Radiology and Radiation Oncology, The University of Iowa; T. Forbes, Department of Chemistry, The University of Iowa  
New drilling and hydraulic-fracturing technologies have unlocked economically-lucrative reserves of natural gas and the practice is proliferating rapidly. However, solid and liquid waste from these activities are enriched in naturally-occurring radioactive materials (NORM). Further, sediments downstream from wastewater treatment facilities are enriched in NORM. Similarly, NORM levels in solid waste are too high for disposal in many municipal facilities and are often buried on homesites. This pilot study will collect and analyze surface water, sediments, and plants at a wastewater treatment site in West Virginia that accepts hydraulic-fracturing wastewater, and will also collect and determine the leachability of NORM from solid-waste.                                                                                                   Publications:  Nelson AW, Eitrheim ES, Knight AW, May D, Mehrhoff MA, Shannon R, Litman R, Burnett WC, Forbes TZ, Schultz MK. Understanding the radioactive ingrowth and decay of naturally occurring radioactive materials in the Environment: An analysis of produced fluids from the Marcellus Shale. Environ health Perspec. 2015 123(7):689-696.

Nelson AW, Johns AJ, Eitrheim ES, Knight AW, Basile M, Bettis EA, Schultz MK, Forbes TZ. Partitioning of naturally-occurring radionuclides (NORM) in MArcellus Shale produced fluids influenced by a chemical matrix. Environ Sci Processes Impacts 2016 18(4):456-463