CHEEC Seed Grants: FY 2016

Exposure to environmental obesogen tributyltin during early pregnancy in association with maternal obesity and gestational weight gain
Investigators: W. Bao, Department of Epidemiology, The University of Iowa; H.J. Lehmler, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Iowa; D.A. Santillan, M.K. Santillan, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The University of Iowa; K. Wang, Department of Biostatistics, The University of Iowa 

Fate of neonicotinoid insecticides in water and wastewater treatment systems
Investigators: D.M. Cwiertny, G.H. LeFevre, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Iowa; D.W. Kolpin, U.S. Geological Survey

Environmentally active surface films
Investigators: S.K. Shaw, J.S. Grant, Department of Chemistry, The University of Iowa

Discovering links between environmental contaminant clusters and environmental, geographic and social drivers using network-based data processing
Investigator: A. Sen Gupta, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, The University of Iowa

 


Exposure to environmental obesogen tributyltin during early pregnancy in association with maternal obesity and gestational weight gain 
Investigators:  W. Bao, Department of Epidemiology, The University of Iowa; H.J. Lehmler, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Iowa; D.A. Santillan, M.K. Santillan, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The University of Iowa; K. Wang, Department of Biostatistics, The University of Iowa
Emerging evidence from animal studies has established tributyltin (TBT) as a novel environmental obesogen in the development of obesity and impaired metabolic function. However, data on health effects of TBT exposure in humans are lacking, indicating a critical and urgent need to translate the findings from animal studies to humans. This project is innovative in being the first to investigate the associations of prenatal TBT exposure during early pregnancy with maternal obesity and gestational weight gain. The Investigators will measure TBT concentrations in maternal plasma samples collected from 100 pregnant women at the first prenatal visit (<10 weeks of gestation). These samples have been already collected and archived in the University of Iowa Maternal Fetal Tissue Bank, an ongoing prospective cohort study. Maternal anthropometric measures, along with demographic and clinical data, will be extracted from confidential electronic health records.

Fate of neonicotinoid insecticides in water and wastewater treatment systems 
Investigators: D.M. Cwiertny, G.H. LeFevre, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Iowa; D.W. Kolpin, U.S. Geological Survey
Neonicotinoids represent one of the most heavily used pesticide classes, particularly for corn and soy production. Despite their ubiquity in Midwestern water resources, little is known about their fate in the environment, particularly engineered treatment systems intended to mitigate risks of their exposure. This work is motivated by an overriding hypothesis that chemical and biological processes used in conventional treatment alter the structure of neonicotinoids so as to remove their specificity to invertebrates, thereby exposing non-target organisms, including humans, to unanticipated risks arising from their bioactive transformation products in finished water and effluent. Theresearch plan integrates  laboratory studies  simulating conventional  water and wastewater treatment processes with monitoring of neonicotinoid removal and transformation at the University of Iowa Water Treatment Plant. Outcomes will provide the first insights into best practices for neonicotinoid removal during treatment and better understanding of the risks associated with their formation of unintended transformation byproducts.

Publication:  Klarich KL, Pflug NC, DeWald EM, Hladik ML, Kolpin DW, Cwiertny DM, LeFevre GH. Occurrence of neonicotinoid insecticides in finished drinking water and fate during drinking water treatment. Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2017; DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.7b00081.

Environmentally active surface films   
Investigators: S.K. Shaw, J.S. Grant, Department of Chemistry, The University of Iowa
This research will address an emerging avenue for pollutant fate and transport in the active surface film. Surface films are composed of organic (waxy) and inorganic (salty) species which combine in dynamic, heterogeneous matrixes on nearly all impervious surfaces. The films work as ‘environmental sponges’ by mediating fate and transport of volatile and semi-volatile organic pollutants (OP), ultimately affecting human and environmental health. Our goal is to assign culpability of surface films’ physical morphology (roughness) and chemical maturity (oxidation state) to their participation in OP absorption and release. We propose to develop and expose proxy films to metered doses of known environmental maturation agents (i.e. UV radiation and ozone) and quantify the films’ morphology and interaction with OP as a function of film maturity. We predict the films’ heterogeneous character and dynamic behavior will significantly impact OP adsorption (and absorption), and that this behavior will trend with film hydrophobicity.

Discovering links between environmental contaminant clusters and environmental, geographic and social drivers using network-based data processing
Investigator:  A. Sen Gupta, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, The University of Iowa
This seed project spans two interdisciplinary collaborations across the College of Engineering, and College of Public Health that harness the power of information science and signal processing towards better understanding of contaminant fingerprints in the environment. In particular, the PI will investigate data-driven associations linking contaminant clusters to environmental, geographic and social drivers. This project will develop a data-driven infrastructure towards robust interpretation of raw signal and processed field  data, along with prediction models for success of intervention methods. While the focus of the work is chemical contaminants, the methods here apply equally to biological contaminants, e.g. water-borne fecal pathogens in soil and water.