Archive

You are here

Past CHEEC Research:

Funded Research and Data Management Project

  • Project Period: 2013 to 2020

    MDSTARNet

    Abstract:

    CHEEC provided database support and applications development for the Muscular Dystrophy Surveillance Tracking and Research Network (MDSTARNet). The study is a multi-center multi-state research, tracking and surveillance effort that is identifying all people with childhood-onset Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies (DBMD). Collaborators are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and researchers from Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and New York. At the University of Iowa, the Iowa Registry for Congenital and Inherited Disorders is coordinating research efforts with assistance from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

    Go to the CDC website for further information: http://www.cdc.gov/

  • Project Period: 2012 to 2017

    Iowa Women's Health Study Drinking Water Exposures and Cancer Risk

    Collaborating Institution(s)
    National Cancer Institute
    Univ. of Minnesota School of Public Health
    CHEEC
    Abstract:

    This project involves analyzing drinking water contaminant data (nitrate, pesticides, disinfection byproducts) in Iowa municipal water supplies in communities where over 21,000 participants in the Iowa Women's Health Study resided during the 1960s through the 1980s. Drinking water exposure data is included with lifestyle, dietary and other data to evaluate risks for thyroid, bladder and ovarian cancer.

  • Project Period: 2010 to 2016

    Water Quality Data for Private Wells for the Agricultural Health Study Cohort

    Collaborating Institution(s)
    CHEEC
    State Hygienic Laboratory
    Abstract:

    This project will provide nitrate, pesticide and other water quality data for private wells and public water utilities across Iowa to use in modeling drinking water exposures for members of the Agricultural Health Study cohort.

  • Project Period: 2008 to 2016

    Exposure Assessment Method for Disinfection Byproducts in Drinking Water in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study

    Collaborating Institution(s)
    CHEEC
    NBDPS centers
    U.S. EPA
    University of North Carolina
    Abstract:

    The water exposure assessment subcommittee of the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS) developed a detailed protocol and approach to assign disinfection byproducts (DBP) exposures in drinking water systems to residences in ten states. This project will enable the NBDPS, in conjunction with data on individual drinking water usage, to evaluate relationships between DBPs (trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids) in drinking water and select birth defects. The exposure assessment protocol includes linking the geocoded maternal address to the appropriate drinking water utility, obtaining all relevant DBP water quality data from that utility for that subject, and modeling water quality data to account for spatial and temporal variability. Centralized geocoding of the residences of NBDPS participant was conducted by ATSDR’s Geospatial Research, Analysis, and Services Program Office. CHEEC is linking geocoded residential addresses to water utilities, collecting DBP data for those utilities, and linking the DBP data to the residences where the mother resided 1 month prior to conception through the first trimester of pregnancy. The University of North Carolina, in cooperation with US EPA, is developing algorithms for models to account for spatial and temporal variability of DBPs.

  • Project Period: 2007 to 2008

    Comprehensive Assessment of Rural Health in Iowa: the Carroll County Well Water Study

    Collaborating Institution(s)
    Carroll County (IA) Environmental Health Department
    CHEEC
    Iowa Department of Public Health
    University Hygienic Laboratory
    Funding Agency
    Iowa Department of Public Health
    National Center for Environmental Health
    Abstract:

    Intensive private drinking water well sampling in Carroll County, Iowa, will be conducted in 2007 – 2008 as part of the Comprehensive Assessment of Rural Health in Iowa (CARHI) project. This sampling will be a cooperative effort with the ongoing Iowa Statewide Rural Well Water Survey Phase 2 (SWRL2), a three year project (2006-08) conducted by CHEEC in collaboration with the Iowa County Health Departments and County sanitarians, the Iowa Departments of Public Health and Natural Resources, and other agencies. The intensive sampling effort in Carroll County will include 50 wells for the entire suite of SWRL2 compounds (nutrients, bacteria, metals, pesticides and herbicide degradates). Research questions of interest for this set of wells include are there seasonal variation for certain analytes in a confined geographic area (county), and what are the risk factors related to well characteristics/proximate sources of contaminants for poor water quality? An additional 100 wells will sampled and analyzed for total coliform bacteria, E. coli, enterococci, somatic coliphage, and chloride, as part of a special microbial monitoring study conducted by the University Hygienic Laboratory. The research objectives of the microbial monitoring study are to determine the incidence of enterovirus in private drinking water wells, to determine the occurrence of traditional and non-traditional fecal indicators in groundwater (e.g. somatic coliphage, chloride, and enterococci), and to determine whether the source of fecal pollution is human (by utilizing a human specific molecular marker).

  • Project Period: 2007 to 2012

    Nitrates, Nitrites and Nitrosatable Drugs and the Risk for Selected Birth Defects

    Collaborating Institution(s)
    Texas A&M University
    University of Iowa (CHEEC, Iowa Registry for Congenital and Inherited Disorders)
    National Birth Defects Prevention Study Centers
    Funding Agency
    National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences
    Abstract:

    Congenital defects are the greatest contributor to infant mortality in the U.S., but the causes for the majority of these defects are either unknown or poorly understood. Amine- and amide-containing (nitrosatable) drugs and other compounds react with nitrite in the stomach to form N-nitroso compounds, which have been found to induce a variety of congenital malformations in animal studies. Previous epidemiologic studies have focused on the separate effects of nitrates, nitrites, and nitrosatable drugs on risk of congenital malformations without consideration of their interaction in the formation of N-nitroso compounds. This study is examining the separate and joint effects of prenatal exposures to nitrates, nitrites, and nitrosatable drugs on the risk for neural tube defects, limb malformations, oral clefts, and heart defects. Cases and controls were obtained from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS), a CDC-funded study that covers populations in 10 different states. Subjects' usual intake of dietary nitrates, nitrites, and nitrosamines was calculated from a food frequency survey. The subject survey will also have information on medications taken one month pre-conception and during the first trimester; these will be classified as to their likelihood of nitrosatability based on the literature and chemical structure. Addresses of Iowa and Texas participants are being linked to community water systems and water nitrate sampling results. The separate and joint effects of nitrosatable precursors on risk of selected malformations will be analyzed. The effects of vitamins C and E (inhibitors of nitrosation) on the relations between nitrate/nitrite intake and nitrosatable drugs and risk of congenital malformations will also be examined. Use of over-the-counter medications is fairly common during pregnancy; several over-the-counter preparations contain nitrosatable compounds as active ingredients. This study will help us understand whether pregnant women who take nitrosatable drugs and also consume greater amounts of nitrates and nitrites are at increased risk of having offspring with birth defects

  • Project Period: 2004 to 2007

    CARHI

    Collaborating Institution(s)
    UI Departments of Geography, Occupational and Environmental Health, and Family Medicine
    Funding Agency
    CDC
    Abstract:

    Research and database management on the Comprehensive Assessment of Rural Health in Iowa (CARHI) in collaboration with the UI Departments of Geography, Occupational and Environmental Health, and Family Medicine. Funding is provided by the CDC.

    Comprehensive Assessment of Rural Health in Iowa (CARHI)—NCEH is funding and providing technical oversight to a 2- to 3-year cooperative surveillance activity that is generating baseline health data for selected rural communities in Iowa. With input from a CARHI committee of stakeholders, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is linking environmental and health data from a rural community to allow investigation of health effects possibly associated with the environment, such as effects associated with agricultural exposures. The CARHI committee is developing a tool and process for collecting data and a CARHI database. The committee also is recruiting communities and health care practitioners to participate in the CARHI project. Public health officials will use CARHI data to monitor communities’ health, identify existing or emerging health problems that warrant further investigation, enhance or guide environmental sampling, conduct comprehensive health studies, or target important public health programs such as smoking cessation and safe farming practices.

  • Project Period: 1993

    Mammography Surveillance Pilot Studies

    Abstract:

    CHEEC provided data support for the Mammography Surveillance Pilot Study conducted in Scott County, Iowa. The study evaluated the feasibility of performing population-based mammography surveillance by identifying and linking Scott County patients receiving screening and diagnostic mammograms with their breast tissue pathology reports and breast cancer experience. 1993 is the study year. Specific aims of the study are: (1) Assess use and effectiveness of breast cancer mammography in Scott County for 1993, (2) Determine the need for changes in the practice of screening and in the workup of women with positive screening tests, and (3) Evaluate the feasibility of performing studies of biologic characteristics of screen-detected breast cancers and non-screen detected breast cancers. The Mammography Surveillance Pilot Study is participating in a consortium of similar surveillance studies. The consortium is committed to sharing common protocol, study design, and research objectives as well as comparable data collection procedures.

  • Project Period: 1993 to 2003

    Residential Radon and Lung Cancer Case-Control Study

    Abstract:

    Radon

    Heartland Radon Research and Education Program (HRREP)

    The Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study

    Phase I Completed

    a Field, R.W., aLynch, C.F., bSteck, D.J., aSmith, B.J., aBrus, C.P., cNeuberger, J.S.,
    aWoolson, R.F., aFisher, E.F., d Platz,C.E., d Robinson, R.A.

    aCollege of Public Health
    University of Iowa

    b Physics Department
    St. Johns University

    c Department of Preventive Medicine
    University of Kansas School of Medicine

    dCollege of Medicine
    University of Iowa

    The Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study was a large-scale epidemiology study initiated in 1993 and funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The study assessed the risk posed by residential radon exposure. The 5-year study was performed in Iowa and the participants were women throughout Iowa who lived in their current home for at least 20 years. Over a thousand Iowa women took part in the study. Four hundred and thirteen of the participants were women who had developed lung cancer, the remaining 614 participants were controls who did not have lung cancer. The study was limited to women, because they historically tend to spend more time at home and they have less occupational exposure to other lung carcinogens.

    The epidemiologic study was performed in Iowa for several reasons. Iowa has the highest average radon concentrations in the United States. In addition, women in Iowa tend to move less than most other states, which makes calculation of their past radon exposure easier. Iowa was also selected because it has a quality National Cancer Institute SEER cancer registry, which helped us identify women who developed lung cancer. Close to 60% of the basement measurements for both cases (participants with lung cancer) and controls (participants without lung cancer) exceeded the EPA's action level. Twenty-eight percent of the living areas for the controls and 33% of the living areas for the cases exceeded the EPA's action level of 4 pCi/L.

    The study used the most advanced radon exposure measurement techniques ever performed in a residential radon study. Numerous yearlong radon measurements were made in each participant's home. Outdoor radon measurements were also performed in addition to estimates of work place exposure. All these measurements were linked to where the participants spent the proceeding 20 years in order to get a cumulative radon exposure.

    The major paper reporting the findings was published in volume 151 of the American Journal of Epidemiology (pages 1081-1101) in 2000. The American Journal of Epidemiology is the premier scientific journal devoted to the publication of empirical research findings and methodologic developments in the field of epidemiologic research. Findings of the study were released to the press on May 25, 2000.

    Risk estimates for the Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study were adjusted for age, active smoking, and education. For all lung cancer subtypes, there was a positive categorical trend (p = 0.05). Analyses restricted to the live cases and controls noted both a strong categorical (p = 0.01) and continuous trend (p = 0.03). The Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study's estimated excess odds at 11 WLM5-19 (roughly equivalent to a 15-year exposure at an average radon exposure of 4 pCi/L) averaged 0.50 for both all cases and the live case subset. For the all-case category, large cell carcinoma exhibited a statistically significant trend for both the continuous (p = 0.04) and categorical (p = 0.03) risk estimates. However, the differences in the linear excess odds between histologic types was not statistically significant (continuous p = 0.58, categorical p = 0.65). Overall, these results suggest that cumulative radon exposure is a significant risk factor for lung cancer in women.

    The Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study had several strengths. First, independent pathologic review was performed for 96 percent of the cases. Second, the study was carried out in Iowa, which has the highest mean radon concentrations in the United States. Third, the high radon concentrations in conjunction with a strict quality assurance protocol contributed to accurate and precise radon measurements. Fourth, the IRLCS criteria requiring occupancy in the current home for at least the last 20 years eliminated the need to impute radon measurements from missing homes. Fifth, the linkage between radon measurements and retrospective participant mobility allowed for a refined exposure estimate. The IRLCS risk estimates are in general agreement with the National Research Council's predicted cancer risk associated with indoor radon exposure. Overall, the risk estimates obtained in this study suggest that cumulative radon exposure in the residential environment is significantly associated with lung cancer risk.

     

    THE IOWA and MISSOURI RESIDENTIAL RADON STUDIES

    Phase II – Currently Underway

    RW Field, Ph.D. a, DJ Steck, Ph.D. b, BJ Smith, Ph.D.a, CF Lynch, M.D. Ph.D.a,
    JH Lubin, Ph.D.c, MA Parkhurst, Ph.D.d, MCR Alavanja, Dr. PH c

    aCollege of Public Health
    University of Iowa

    bPhysics Department
    St. John's University

    c National Cancer Institute
    Rockville, MD

    d Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
    Richland, WA

    Purpose

    The specific aims of the 5-year Iowa and Missouri Residential Radon Studies (Phase-II), which initiated in 2000 are to: 1) further refine the estimated lung cancer risk posed by residential radon-222 (radon) decay product exposure using a novel glass-based retrospective radon decay product (progeny) reconstruction detector; 2) determine the shape (linear, quadratic, etc.) of the dose-response curve relating radon progeny exposure and lung cancer; 3) determine the lung cancer risk posed by radon progeny exposure for the various histologic types; and 4) examine the association between radon progeny and other lung cancer risk factors on the lung cancer incidence. The study, using state-of-the-art methods to measure retrospective radon progeny exposure, focuses on the association between residential radon progeny exposure and lung cancer.

    Glass surfaces exposed to radon gas over an extended period of time are convenient radon progeny reservoirs that allow retrospective estimates of radon exposure. The novel glass-based detectors measure 210Pb previously embedded in glass through residual nuclei recoil implantation following alpha decay. Glass provides a stable matrix for the 210Pb deposit. The 22-year half-life of 210Pbmeans that it takes decades before the activity achieves an equilibrium value and the activity persists for years after exposure. This predictable temporal behavior provides a long-lasting marker for past radon and radon progeny concentrations in a home. Therefore, one can measure glass items that have been carried from home to home over long periods of time to estimate past residential radon progeny exposure. Because the radon progeny deliver the actual radiation dose to the lung tissues, rather than the radon gas itself, better residential radon progeny dose estimates require the reconstruction of actual airborne radon progeny concentrations. Pooling of data between two large-scale epidemiologic studies from a similar geographic area that used the glass-based detectors in addition to the contemporary radon gas detectors increases the power of the overall analyses. We anticipate the research will significantly reduce radon (more precisely radon progeny) exposure misclassification, which will enhance our ability to address the Specific Aims above.

    Study Design

    The study design has three major components: 1) field calibration and laboratory validation of the retrospective radon detectors, 2) reanalysis of the risk estimates from the Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study incorporating radon progeny exposure estimates obtained from retrospective radon detector (RRD) measurements, rather than radon gas measurements; 3) calculation of risk estimates from a pooled analyses of retrospective radon detectors exposure results for the previous National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) funded Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study (IRLCS) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded Missouri Radon Lung Cancer Study II (MRLCS-II).

    Selected Findings

    Findings from the Iowa and Missouri Residential Studies have been published in over 25 peer-reviewed scientific journals. A few examples of some of the major findings follow.

    Risk Estimates for Prolonged Residential Radon Exposure Risk estimates for the Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study using estimates of retrospective gas exposure were adjusted for age, active smoking, and education. For all lung cancer subtypes, there was a positive categorical trend (p = 0.05). Analyses restricted to the live cases and controls noted both a strong categorical (p = 0.01) and continuous trend (p = 0.03). The Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study's estimated excess odds at 11 WLM5-19 (roughly equivalent to a 15-year exposure at an average radon exposure of 4 pCi/L) averaged 0.50 for both all cases and the live case subset. Large cell carcinoma exhibited a statistically significant trend for both the continuous (p = 0.04) and categorical (p = 0.03) risk estimates, but the differences in the linear excess odds between histologic types was not statistically significant. These results suggest that cumulative radon exposure is a significant risk factor for lung cancer in women.

    Improved Residential Radon Study Methodology – The a priori defined IRLCS radon-exposure model produced higher odds ratios than those methodologies that did not link the subject's retrospective mobility with multiple, spatially diverse radon concentrations. In addition, the smallest measurement errors were noted for the IRLCS exposure model. Risk estimates based solely on basement radon measurements generally exhibited the lowest risk estimates and the greatest measurement error. The findings indicate that the power of an epidemiologic study to detect an excess risk from residential radon exposure is enhanced by linking spatially disparate radon concentrations with the subject's retrospective mobility and that previous epidemiologic investigations likely underestimated the risk posed by residential radon exposure.

    State of the Art Radon and Radon Progeny Dosimetry - Radon progeny, rather than radon, deliver dose to the lungs during decade’s long exposures. The study has made advances in estimating contemporary and past radon progeny dose using passive integrating alpha detectors. Contemporary airborne radon and progeny activities are reconstructed from direct radon and surface deposited progeny measurements. Track registration material, with selected energy removing filters, detects the individual alpha emitting isotopic concentrations. These concentrations are used in a fate and transport model to calculate the available airborne dose rate. Retrospective radon progeny concentrations can be reconstructed from glass-implanted 210Po activity and the relationship between airborne and deposited activities determined from contemporary activities. Using a regression analysis of the IRLCS retrospective detector data to identify the important environmental variables, new detector modules, as well as the old, have been calibrated in controlled exposures. Active airborne progeny detectors are being developed and calibrated to directly sample the important environmental conditions and activities in a select group of homes to improve and validate the dose estimates.

    Diet and Lung Cancer - When comparing the fifth (highest) to the first (lowest) quintile of consumption of total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol in the IRLCS, we obtained odds ratios of 2.0 (1.3-3.1), 3.0 (1.9-4.7), and 2.0 (1.3-3.0), respectively for lung cancer. However, when red meat was entered into the model along with total fat, saturated fat or cholesterol, the excess risk for the macronutrients disappeared while an odds ratio of 3.3 (1.7-7.6) was obtained for red meat. The odds ratios for red meat consumption were similar among adenocarcinoma cases, OR=3.0 (1.1-7.9) and non-adenocarcinoma cases, OR=3.2 (1.3-8.3) and among life-time nonsmokers and ex-smokers OR=2.8 (1.4-5.4), and current smokers, OR=4.9 (1.1-22.3). Yellow-green vegetables were protective with an odds ratio of 0.4 (0.2-0.7). We concluded that consumption of red meat was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer even after controlling for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, fruit, yellow-green vegetable consumption and smoking history, while yellow-green vegetables are associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer.

    Gene Environment Interactions – Recent work with collaborators at the NCI and City of Hope (Los Angeles) have explored gene-environment interactions between residential radon, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), and the GSTM1 null genotype. The sample series included lung cancer cases pooled from three previously completed case-control studies. Recent results show a statistically significant 3-fold increase in the interaction OR for GSTM1 null cases compared with GSTM1 present cases. In addition, the ETS and GSTM1 interaction OR was significantly elevated over two-fold. This is the first study to provide evidence of a radon and GSTM1 interaction in risk of lung cancer and supports the hypothesis that radon and ETS may promote neoplasia by damaging genetic pathways that include GSTM1. These findings have just been submitted for publication.

    Future Plans

    Laboratory calibration of the retrospective radon progeny detector is nearing completion and field validation studies are planned for fall of 2004. As soon as this work is complete, we will perform a reanalysis of the IRLCS data using the glass-based retrospective radon progeny data. Next, we will pool the glass-based retrospective radon progeny data from both the IRLCS and MRLCS. The pooled data should allow more power to examine the lung cancer risk posed by residential radon decay product exposure and determine whether the risk varies by histologic type. We are also continuing our collaboration with European investigators pooling the findings from all the residential radon studies that have used standard radon gas measurements and plan an eventual pooling of residential radon studies that incorporated the use of the more advanced glass-based measurements. Further collaborations are also underway with researchers at NCI and City of Hope (Los Angeles) to explore additional studies examining gene-environment interactions and lung cancer. We have archived paraffin fixed tumor specimens from the Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study and welcome the opportunity of additional collaborations using these materials. We are also interested in performing future studies in Iowa, with the cooperation of the NCI SEER Iowa Cancer Registry, examining the impact of environmental causes of lung cancer in relation to energy balance in never-smoking individuals.


    Selected Peer-Reviewed Scientific Publications from the Iowa Residential Radon Study and On-going NCI-Sponsored Iowa and Missouri Residential Radon Studies

    1. Field RW, Steck DJ, Lynch CF, Brus CP, Neuberger JS, Kross BC. Residential Radon-222 Exposure and Lung Cancer: Exposure Assessment Methodology. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology 6(2):181-195, 1996.
    1. Field RW, Smith BJ, Brus CP, Lynch CF, Neuberger JS, Steck DJ. Retrospective Temporal and Spatial Mobility of Adult Iowa Women, Risk Analysis: An International Journal 18(5):575-584, 1998.
    1. Fisher EF, Field RW, Smith BJ, Lynch CF, Steck DJ, Neuberger JS. Spatial Variation of Residential Radon Concentrations: The Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study, Health Physics 75(5):506-513, 1998.
    1. Field RW, Lynch CF, Steck DJ, Fisher EF. Dosimetry Quality Assurance: The Iowa Residential Radon Lung Cancer Study, Radiation Protection Dosimetry 78(4):295-303, 1998.
    1. Steck DJ, Field RW, and Lynch CF. Exposure to Atmospheric Radon (222Rn) in Central North America, Environmental Health Perspectives 107(2):123-127, 1999.
    1. Field RW, Lynch CF, Steck DJ, Smith BJ, Brus CP, Neuberger JS, Woolson RF, Fisher EF, Platz CE, Robinson RA. Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study, Radiation Research 151:101-103, 1999.
    1. Field RW, Steck DJ, Smith BJ, Brus CP, Neuberger JS, Fisher EF, Platz CE, Robinson RA, Woolson RF, Lynch CF. Residential Radon Gas Exposure and Lung Cancer: The Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study, American Journal of Epidemiology 151(11):1091-1102, 2000.
    1. Field RW, Steck DJ, Smith BJ, Brus CP, Neuberger JS, Fisher EF, Lynch CF. The Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study Phase I: Residential Radon Gas Exposure and Lung Cancer, The Science of the Total Environment 272:367-72, 2001.
    1. Steck DJ, Field RW. The Use of Track Registration Detectors To Reconstruct Contemporary and Historical Airborne Radon (222Rn) and Radon Progeny Concentrations for a Radon-Lung Cancer Epidemiologic Study, Radiation Measurements 31(1-6):401-412, 1999.
    1. Field RW, Steck DJ, Parkhurst MA, Hahaffey JA, Alavanja MCR. Intercomparison of Retrospective Radon Progeny Measurement Devices, Environmental Health Perspectives 107:905-910, 1999.
    1. Alavanja MCR, Field RW, Sinha R, Brus CP, Shavers VL, Fisher EL, Curtain J, Lynch CF. Lung Cancer Risk and Red Meat Consumption Among Iowa Women, Lung Cancer 34 (1):37 - 46, 2001.
    1. Field RW, Smith BJ, Lynch CF, Steck DJ. Intercomparison of Radon Exposure Assessment Methods: Implications for Residential Radon Risk Assessment, Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology 12(3):197-203, 2002.
    1. Steck DJ, Alavanja MCR, Field RW, Parkhurst MA, Bates DJ, Mahaffey JA. 210Po Implanted in Glass Surfaces by Long Term Exposure to Indoor Radon, Health Physics 83(2):261-271, 2002.
    1. Krewski D, Lubin J, Zielinski J, Alavanja M, Catalan V, Field RW, Klotz J, Létourneau E, Lynch C, Lyon J, Sandler D, Schoenberg J, Steck D, Stolwijk J, Weinberg C, Wilcox H A. A Combined Analysis of North American Case control Studies of Residential Radon and Lung Cancer: An Update. Radiation Research 158(6):785-790, 2002.
    1. Field RW. (Invited paper): A Review of Residential Radon Case-Control Epidemiologic studies Performed in the United States, Reviews on Environmental Health 16 (3), 2001.
    1. Field RW, Smith BJ, Platz CE, Robinson RA, Brus CP, Lynch CF. Agreement Between SEER Reported Versus Independently Reviewed Lung Cancer Morphologies: A Quality Assurance Analysis, Journal of the National Cancer Institute 96(14):1105-7, 2004.
    1. Krewski D, Lubin J, Zielinski J, Alavanja M, Catalan V, Field RW, Klotz J, Létourneau E, Lynch C, Lyon J, Sandler D, Schoenberg J, Steck D, Stolwijk J, Weinberg C, Wilcox HA. North American Case-Control Studies of Residential Radon and Lung Cancer, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, In Press.
    1. Krewski D, Lubin J, Zielinski JM, Alavanja M, Field RW, Letourneau EG, Sandler DP, Schoenberg JB, Weinberg C, Wilcox S, Catalan V. Risk of Lung Cancer in North America Associated with Residential Radon, Epidemiology, In Press.

      For additional information on these studies contact:

      R. William Field, M.S., Ph.D.
      The University of Iowa
      College of Public Health
      Department of Occupational
      and Environmental Health
      Department of Epidemiology
      104 IREH
      Iowa City, Iowa 52242
      Phone: 319-335-4413
      Fax: 319-335-4225
      Email: bill-field@uiowa.edu

       

      **********************************************

      GENERAL RADON INFORMATION

      • Information on radon testing and mitigation is available toll free from the National Safety Council at 1-800-SOS-RADON, or by visiting the EPA Web site.
      • Maps of indoor and outdoor radon concentrations in the upper Midwest can be found at the Minnesota Radon Project map web pages.

       

      • R.William Field's keynote address titled Current National and International Scientific Radon-Related Activities and Educational Initiatives given at the Fifteenth National Radon Meeting in 2005. Download the PowerPoint presentation.

        Notes: This will download the powerpoint presentation to your computer. You will need Microsoft powerpoint to open/see the presentation. If you are having trouble, sometimes it is best to select the option 'Save file' when prompted, open powerpoint, and then open the downloaded file (CRCPDweb.ppt). In our tests, both Firefox and MS Internet Explorer browsers running on a Windows XP machine and the latest version of Microsoft office had no problem downloading and viewing the file. The file size is 2.14 MB. The full file path is http://cheec.uiowa.edu/sites/cheec.uiowa.edu/files/CRCPDweb.ppt.

      • RADON: Top 10 Reasons for Action. The following is a powerpoint presentation created by Dr. Field that may serve as a template for radon outreach presentations. The presentation builds in part on previous slides presented by the U.S. EPA for outreach purposes. Please feel free to use for your outreach activities, but acknowledgement of source of materials would be appreciated. Some of the slides in the presentation contain speaking notes under the slides. Download the PowerPoint presentation.

        Notes: This will download the PowerPoint presentation to your computer. You will need Microsoft PowerPoint to open/see the presentation. If you are having trouble, sometimes it is best to select the option 'Save file' when prompted, open powerpoint, and then open the downloaded file (Webtop10.ppt). In our tests, both Firefox and MS Internet Explorer browsers running on a Windows XP machine and the latest version of Microsoft Office had no problem downloading and viewing the file. The file size is 2.78 MB. The full file path is http://cheec.uiowa.edu//sites/cheec.uiowa.edu/files/Webtop10.ppt.

      • Radon: What you can't see can hurt youAn article appearing in the fall 2005 edition of Spectator, a University of Iowa Publication. The link will download a PDF document.

       

      Acknowledgements: We thank the National Institutes of Health: National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences , Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination at the University of Iowa, Iowa Cancer Registry, and the participants and their caring families that made these studies possible.

    1. Project Period: 1993 to 2015

      Agricultural Health Study

      Abstract:

      CHEEC Data Management Center staff provided full computer support including database design and administration, system services and applications programming for the Agricultural Health Study for the first 13 years to this study. This study is funded by National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)has enrolled more than 60,000 people in Iowa. The University of Iowa College of Public Health is the lead investigator in Iowa. This large cohort will be followed for many year obtain detailed information on agricultural exposures, diet, and other factors which may be related to the development of cancer and other diseases. Information gathered will provide data on agricultural practices that can be helpful to farmers nationwide. For more information on the Agricultural Health Study, visit http://www.aghealth.org.

    2. Project Period: 1986 to 1987

      One Time Testing of Iowa Regulated Drinking Water Supplies

      Abstract:

      In 1986 the Iowa General Assembly passed House File 2303. This legislation mandated that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) must develop and implement a one-time analytical testing of the finished water from Iowa's publicly and privately owned water systems for 35 pesticide compounds and 35 volatile organic contaminants (VOC). The University Hygienic Laboratory (UHL) provided all analytical services to this program which ran from November 1986 to November 1987.

      Eight hundred and fifty-six public water systems were tested. One hundred and twenty-five tested positive for one or more pesticides. Five hundred and fifty tested positive for one or more synthetic organic compounds. No measurable concentrations of pesticides or volatile organic chemicals were found in 279 systems. A few water systems had pesticides or volatile organic chemical levels that exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health advisories or maximum contaminant levels, but contaminant levels high enough to cause an acute health risk were not observed in this study.

      The pesticides most commonly found were atrazine, cyanazine (Bladex), alachlor (Lasso), metolachlor (Dual), and 2,4-D. The most frequently found volatile organic chemicals belong to a group called trihalomethanes (THMs). THMs are formed during disinfection when chlorine reacts with organic matter in the water. Para- and meta-xylene, measured as a single compound, was the second most abundant VOC observed.

      The following are the most significant findings of this one time testing:

      • Surface water systems have the greatest potential for pesticide contamination.
      • The shallower ground water sources have a greater potential for contamination by pesticides and VOCs.
      • A seasonal trend in pesticide occurrences in water sources was not observed, with the exception of 2,4-D found at low levels.
      • The frequency of appearance and concentration of trihalomethanes in ground water systems serving small municipalities was unexpected.

      For a copy of this report, contact the University Hygienic Laboratory at (319) 335-4500.

    3. Project Period: 1983 to 2000

      Naturally Occurring Ammonia in Drinking Water Wells

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory
      CHEEC
      Funding Agency
      Iowa Department of Natural Resources
      Abstract:

      The (UHL) and the University of Iowa Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC), in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Drinking Water Section, used existing databases and special monitoring efforts to conduct a statewide assessment of ground water quality and its relationship to certain public health outcomes. The study looked at the occurrence of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and nitrifying bacteria in selected public water supplies. The study also included the linkage of analytical data maintained by the UHL and CHEEC, IDNR and health outcome data maintained by the Iowa Registry for Congenital and Inherited Disorders and the State Health Registry of Iowa. The study examined exposure to certain water contaminants and the incidence of various health outcomes at the community level. The study goal was to provide the State of Iowa with an ecological assessment of the occurrence and concentration of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate-nitrogen in community water supplies and the risk for adverse health outcomes including, low birthweight, certain birth defects and certain cancers. Results of the investigation showed that systems with elevated ammonia concentrations in their source water had elevated nitrite and nitrate concentrations in their distributions systems. The results also indicated that bacterial growth, even with chlorination, was sufficient to lead to the reduction of ammonia and thus contribute to nitrite and nitrate concentrations in the distribution system. No adverse health outcomes, associated with the contaminants of concern, were identified in the study because of an insufficient study population. The report made several recommendations related to monitoring for ammonia and nitrite, as well as control of scaling and biofilms in water supply distribution systems.

    Cooperative Research Project

    • Project Period: 2018

      Investigation of prenatal and postnatal exposures in the etiology of breast and thyroid cancers in young adult Iowa women

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      Iowa Registry for Congenital and Inherited Disorders
      Wake Forest School of Medicine, Breast Cancer Program
      Iowa SEER Cancer Registry
      University of Iowa, Center for Public Health Statistics
      University of Maryland College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Center for Geospatial Information Science
      University of Iowa, Reproductive Molecular Epidemiology Research and Education Program
      Funding Agency
      Iowa Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention
      Population Health Seed Funds
      Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination
      Project Investigator(s)
      Paul Romitti, Charles Lynch, Jacob Oleson, Kristin Conway, University of Iowa College of Public Health
      Alexandra Thomas, Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
      Kathleen Stewart, University of Maryland
      Abstract:

      Breast and thyroid cancers pose an increasing health threat to young adult women ages 20-39 years in the United States (U.S.). Analysis of cancer surveillance data for the years 1992-2011 from 13 U.S. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Cancer Registries identified that the annual incidence of Stage I-III hormone receptor-positive breast cancer among women ages 20-29 years and 30-39 years in Iowa, ranked second and fourth, respectively among the 13 registries. A recent review of Iowa SEER Cancer Registry data identified that the incidence of thyroid cancer has increased markedly from 1974-1983 to 2004-2013 among Iowa women ages 25-39 years. Even with this changing epidemiology, risk factors that contribute to these premenopausal malignancies are not well studied. Moreover, factors examined for postmenopausal breast and thyroid cancers do not seem to explain their increased incidence among premenopausal women. Because premenopausal breast and thyroid cancers are often hormonally mediated, their onset may be influenced by exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and such exposure could begin prenatally. To date, investigation of prenatal exposures and premenopausal breast and thyroid cancers is limited, and investigation of both prenatal and postnatal exposures is largely unexplored. As such, we propose to take full advantage of the high-quality, population-based cancer surveillance data collected by the Iowa SEER Cancer Registry and the multi-decade repository of population-based birth and death data maintained by the Iowa Registry for Congenital and Inherited Disorders to examine prenatal and postnatal exposures in the etiology of breast and thyroid cancers among a cohort of young adult Iowa women. We hypothesize that breast cancer and thyroid cancer in young adult Iowa women have geospatial predilections, suggesting estrogenic environmental risks from birth to diagnosis. For breast cancer, we also hypothesize that differences in endogenous hormone exposure are positively associated with increased incidence and worse outcomes for young adult women with hormone receptor-positive than those with hormone receptor-negative disease. To test these hypotheses, we aim to: 1) link cancer surveillance data with birth and death data to establish and describe a cohort of young adult Iowa women with breast or thyroid cancer; 2) conduct individual-level geospatial surveillance for young adult Iowa women with breast or thyroid cancer; and 3) examine associations between selected environmental exposures at birth and at diagnosis and development of breast or thyroid cancer in young adult Iowa women. In conducting these aims, we will eschew more traditional study designs, and instead, implement a population-based, life course, household-level design. Our proposed design also will allow us to easily incorporate annual updates of cancer surveillance and birth and death data to monitor future patterns of cancer occurrence and emerging exposures in this cohort. Elucidating etiologies of breast and thyroid cancers in young adult women is critical due to the prevalence of these diseases, as well as the marked personal and societal impacts of cancer diagnosis at a young age. Our study can help provide insights into these etiologies, an important step to developing interventions to reduce the incidence of these malignancies in young adult women.

    • Project Period: 2017

      Iowa statewide small community drinking water survey of lead, copper and arsenic

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      Iowa Institute for Hydraulic Research-Hydroscience and Engineering
      Sustainable Water Development Graduate Program, UI Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
      Project Investigator(s)
      Michelle Scherer, Drew Latta, David Cwiertny, UI Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
      Susie Dai, State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa
      Abstract:

      This project will address the issue of lead, copper, and arsenic in small community drinking water systems. Lead, copper, and arsenic are regulated in drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) due to their toxicity to human health. Over the last five years, 41 water systems in Iowa have exceeded the action level for Pb in their drinking water and 22 have exceeded the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for arsenic (impacted population = 23,393). This project will be a collaboration of CHEEC, the State Hygienic Laboratory, and IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering to collect, analyze and map available Pb, Cu and As data from small community drinking water systems in Iowa, as well as identify twenty small communities to survey and measure Pb, Cu, and As, water quality parameters, and treatment methods. The goal is to make Pb, Cu, and As data easily accessible to communities and to provide recommendations to communities on how to avoid future Pb, Cu, and As releases to their water.

    • Project Period: 2016

      Naturally-occurring radioactivity in private drinking water in Iowa: Understanding the potential for increased cancer risks to Iowans

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      UI Department of Radiology, State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa
      Project Investigator(s)
      Michael Schultz, UI Department of Radiology
      Michael Wichman, Dustin May, State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa
      Abstract:

      Naturally-occurring radioactive material can be a substantial source of radiation exposure to the public, especially in ground-derived drinking water. Two radionuclides from the uranium decay series (lead-210; Pb-210 and polonium-210; Po-210) are of particular concern because their characteristic properties combine to present potential carcinogenic risks to human. These radionuclides are present in subsurface geological deposits where a great deal of drinking water in the state of Iowa is derived. While the potential carcinogenicities are known, concentrations of Pb-210 and Po-210 are not well characterized in Iowa aquifers. This study proposes to determine the concentrations of Pb-210 and Po-210 in 50 privately-owned wells across the state to develop an understanding of the potential contribution to increased lifetime cancer risk to Iowans.It is expected that success in these studies will result in a more detailed understanding of the biogeochemical relationship of increased levels of Po-210 and Pb-210 to other natural radionuclides found in Iowa's well water, and will provide preliminary data for understanding potential risk of natural radioactivity in Iowa's well water.

    • Project Period: 2016

      Effect of co-exposure to air pollution and house dust endotoxin on asthma and wheeze

      Project Investigator(s)
      Angelico Mendy, Peter Thorne, UI Department of Epidemiology
      Darryl Zeldin, Paivi Salo, NIEHS
      Richard Cohen, Jesse Wilkerson, Social and Scientific Systems, Inc.
      Charles Weir, HHS Office of Emergency Management
      Abstract:

      Air pollutants and house dust endotoxin are ubiquitous in our environment. Air pollutants exacerbate pre-existing asthma and evidence is mounting that it may cause the disease through oxidative stress and destruction of the airway mucosa. Endotoxin is also well known to cause bronchial asthma, although research suggests it might be protective against the atopic phenotype, especially with early-life exposure. Animal studies suggest that co-exposure to both air pollutants and endotoxin may have worse consequences on respiratory health than individual exposures. This study will investigate the effects of co-exposure to environmental pollutants on asthma and wheeze in humans in a representative U.S. sample. The research will lead to an increased understanding of environmental risk factors for asthma and wheeze to enhance prevention of these respiratory conditions.

    • Project Period: 2014

      Development of novel, composite nanomaterials for water filtration

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) funds to support GRA
      EPA funds (via Cwiertny/Parkin Labs) for lab equipment and supplies
      Project Investigator(s)
      Sarah Larsen, UI Department of Chemistry
      David Cwiertny, Gene Parkin, UI Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
      Abstract:

      Approximately 1/3 of the world’s population lacks access to safe drinking water. Human exposures to drinking water contaminants, such as arsenic, have been linked to cancer, neurological, cardiovascular and pulmonary health problems. In a recent survey of private wells in Iowa, 48% were found to contain arsenic and 8% were determined to have arsenic levels greater than the EPA’s drinking water standard of 10 ppb. It is critical, both globally and locally, to develop improved methods for removing groundwater contaminants. Investigators in this study will design, fabricate and evaluate mesoporous silica-coated electrospun iron oxide nanofibers for arsenic adsorption from water. The Larsen Lab is developing functionalized mesoporous silica materials for adsorption of radioactive contaminants; these materials are also promising for application as arsenic adsorbents. The Cwiertny/Parkin Lab is developing electrospun nanofibers for use as chemically active filtration materials. CHEEC funds will allow the two Labs to work collaboratively to develop and evaluate these novel composite adsorbents.

    • Project Period: 2012

      Occurrence of viruses and unregulated contaminants in Iowa public water supply groundwater

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      Iowa Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Geological Survey
      UI Department of Geosciences, U.S. Department of Agriculture
      Project Investigator(s)
      Robert Libra, Iowa Geological and Water Survey
      Michael Wichman, State Hygienic Laboratory
      Abstract:

      Groundwater supplies drinking water to about 80% of Iowa’s population; most Iowans obtain water from public water supplies (PWS), which are required by EPA to monitor finished water for various chemical, physical, and biological contaminants; raw source water monitoring is infrequently required. EPA publishes a Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List detailing contaminants that may require standards and monitoring in the future. A strategy to assess future drinking water regulatory needs, and to guide source water protection activities for both public and domestic wells is targeted sampling and analysis of raw PWS groundwater for currently unregulated contaminants with public health and environmental concerns. This project will sample 66 Iowa PWS wells with known construction and hydrogeologic vulnerability for a number of contaminants. Funding for this project comes from EPA and Iowa DNR Drinking Water and Source-Water Protection programs. CHEEC funds will be used for sampling and analysis of PWS wells for human enteric viruses. The upcoming federal Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule will have an emphasis on groundwater contaminants; this project will complement the national plan and establish Iowa as a leader in monitoring groundwater quality for contaminants with public health implications.

    • Project Period: 2012

      Evaluation of a web-based approach to data collection in molecular environmental epidemiological investigations of adverse pregnancy outcomes

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      Iowa Registry for Congenital and Inherited Disorders
      UI Reproductive Molecular Epidemiology Research and Education Program
      Project Investigator(s)
      Paul Romitti, Kristin Caspers, UI Dept. of Epidemiology
      Gabriele Ludewig, UI Dept. of Occupational and Environmental Health
      Michael Wichman, State Hygienic Laboratory
      Peter Weyer, CHEEC
      Abstract:

      Wireless telephone use, caller ID, and call blocking pose challenges to telephone-based data collection for epidemiological studies; smartphones, tablets, and increased access to the internet have removed both time and place demands of home-based communications. Telephone-based data collection in Iowa for the NBDPS has indicated a steady decline in participation rates. This case-control study will evaluate a web-based approach for molecular environmental epidemiological studies of adverse pregnancy outcomes. 240 infants with selected birth defects and 240 infants without defects will be selected and equally assigned to a web-based or a telephone-based group. They will be administered a questionnaire for maternal environmental exposures; mothers in the web-based group will electronically sign a consent form to use residual newborn bloodspots for biomonitoring; for the telephone-based group, the U.S. Postal Service will be used for hand-signed informed consents. Participation rates, sample representativeness, exposure reporting, and costs between the web-based and telephone-based groups will be compared. Investigators hypothesize that improved participation rates will be seen in the web-based group, which will permit increased generalization of study results and increased statistical power for studies.

    • Project Period: 2011

      Influence of Redox Fluctuations on Arsenic Dynamics in Iowa Aquifer Materials

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      Cerro Gordo County (IA) Department of Public Health
      Project Investigator(s)
      Michelle Scherer, Gene Parkin, Douglas Schnoebelen, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UI
      Peter Weyer, Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination, UI
      Abstract:

      Arsenic is an emerging water quality issue in Iowa’s groundwater. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, there are 69 public water supplies that utilize groundwater with arsenic concentrations greater than the recommended limit and in as recent survey of 473 private wells in Iowa, 48% were found to contain arsenic. This study will help address the issue of arsenic in groundwater by conducting laboratory experiments to better understand the geochemical processes controlling the release of arsenic from soils to groundwater. This project will build on previous work that developed analytical methods for measuring arsenic and investigating the reduction of arsenic by common soil minerals. The objectives of this study are to 1) determine the extent of arsenic incorporation and release from iron minerals commonly found in Iowa aquifers, and 2) measure the release of iron and arsenic from Iowa aquifer materials where arsenic has been identified in the groundwater.

    • Project Period: 2006 to 2008

      Iowa Statewide Rural Well Water Survey Phase 2 (SWRL2)

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      Iowa Private Well Owners
      Iowa County Public/Environmental Health Departments
      University Hygienic Laboratory
      UI College of Public Health
      Iowa Department of Natural Resources
      Iowa Department of Public Health
      Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
      U.S. Geological Survey
      U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      ISU Department of Geologic and Atmospheric Sciences
      UI Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination
      Abstract:

      The Iowa Statewide Rural Well Water Survey Phase 2 (SWRL2) was conducted from 2006-2008. It served as a follow-up study to the original SWRL (1988-1989).

      SWRL2 study objectives were to examine trends in water quality since 1988–89 and collect baseline data for emerging contaminants. 473 private rural drinking water wells were sampled in 89 Iowa counties. 116 of the wells were original SWRL study wells; the other wells were randomly selected from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Private Well Tracking System.

       

      Map of all the well sampling sites in Iowa

         SWRL 2 well sampling sites

      Findings from all of the sampled wells  include:

      Bacteria: 43% had total coliform  bacteria, 19% had enterococci, 11% had  E. coli

      Nitrate: 49% had nitrate; 12% had ≥10  mg/L (parts per million) nitrate-N, EPA’s drinking water standard for public water supplies

      Arsenic: 48% had arsenic; 8% had arsenic ≥0.01 mg/L, EPA’s drinking water standard for public water supplies

      Pesticides (parent compounds): 8% had atrazine at very low concentrations; 2% had metolachlor; acetochlor, alachlor and trifluralin were detected in <1% of wells

      Herbicide degradates (breakdown products of the parent compound): 11% had desethyl-atrazine, 11% had acetochlor ESA (ethane sulfonic acid), 27% had alachlor ESA, 33% had metolachlor ESA, and 8% had metolachlor OXA (oxanilic acid) 

      Health Assessment: This study did not set out to assess health risks associated with consumption of well water in Iowa. While some analysis showed levels of certain contaminants exceeding maximum contamination levels (MCLs) for public drinking water supplies, water quality in private drinking water wells is not regulated. Study-wide, no parent herbicide concentration was found to exceed a public water MCL. Herbicide degradate values were generally found at very small levels -- the mean for all degradates was 0.7 parts per billion (ppb) or less, with maximum values at 7 ppb. There are no established MCL values for degradates which are generally believed to be less toxic than their parent compound.

      SWRL2 fact sheet and full report are available for download (PDF):

    • Project Period: 2005

      The Iowa Beach Study

      Project Investigator(s)
      Eric O'Brien, Janice Boekhoff: Iowa Department of Natural Resources
      Peter Weyer, David Riley: UI Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination
      Michael Wichman, Nancy Hall: University Hygienic Laboratory
      Gregory Gray, Troy McCarthy, R. William Field, Tara Smith: UI College of Public Health
      Abstract:

      A prospective pilot study of beach users from three Iowa beaches was conducted in June-August 2005 to determine the number of self-reported gastrointestinal (GI) illness symptoms and skin irritation/rash symptoms in swimmers and non-swimmers, and to correlate those numbers with bacterial levels in beach water. Aims of the study were to determine GI illness and skin irritation/rash symptom numbers at freshwater beaches with nonpoint pollution sources and to evaluate the effectiveness of indicator bacteria as predictors of risk under unique lake conditions found in Iowa. Study staff visited beaches on a daily basis over six weeks to distribute study flyers, recruit participants and take water samples. One-thousand and thirty-nine people were recruited for the study. Of that number, 261 people participated on-line in a web-based system to collect baseline information, and completed follow-up surveys over four weeks which included questions about water activities, time spent at the beach, occurrence of GI illness or skin irritation, etc. Composite water samples were collected daily and analyzed at the University Hygienic Laboratory for E.coli, enterococci, and total microcystin toxin. Spearman correlation coefficients were calculated to compare beach indicator variables to GI illness and skin irritation/rash symptoms. Reported GI illness and skin irritation/rash episodes were correlated with indicator variables at each beach. Multiple regression analyses ranked beach indicator variables, bacterial levels in the water, and various interactions as risk factors for GI illness and skin irritation/rash episodes. Statistically significant associations between bacteria levels and reported illness included enterococci level and diarrhea at Beach 1, enterococci level and skin irritation/rash symptoms at Beach 2, and microcystin toxin level (<1 μg/L) and skin irritation/rash at Beach 1. The results of this pilot study indicate that more research is needed to determine if these associations exist on a larger scale at other inland beaches and to further explore the positive correlation between low levels of microcystin toxin and skin irritation/rash.

      A poster titled Microcystin Toxin and Enterococci Indicator Levels Associated with Freshwater Recreational Waterborne Illness was presented at the 2007 American Society for Microbiology conference by Nancy Hall.

    • Project Period: 2004

      Fate of Endocrine Disruptors, Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals in Wastewater Treatment Plants

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
      Project Investigator(s)
      Gene Parkin, Craig Just, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Iowa
      Abstract:

      Biosolids are generally defined as the end-product of production and treatment of sludges generated during wastewater treatment. Beneficial uses of biosolids (e.g., land application, landfill covers, etc.) are expected to increase in the coming years. Wastewaters from domestic and industrial sources are known to contain relatively low concentrations of endocrine disruptors, antibiotics and pharmaceuticals. Most of what is known about the fate of these compounds comes from measurements taken before and after treatment of the liquid component of the wastewater. Very little is known about the fate of these compounds during processing of the solids generated during wastewater treatment. Many of these compounds are likely to partition onto particulate matter due to their hydrophobic nature. Thus, it is important to understand the fate of these compounds during the production and use of biosolids. Aqueous samples collected at points throughout a wastewater treatment plant were processed and analyzed for acetaminophen, caffeine, cotinine, ibuprofen, 4-nonylphenol, sulfamethoxazole, triclosan, and trimethoprim. Most aqueous phase removal occurred during primary clarification and/or activated sludge treatment while little or no aqueous phase removal resulted from secondary clarification or chlorination/dechlorination. Sorption isotherms determined for each compound on biosolids from the plant indicated compound specific sorption behavior. Caffeine, cotinine and acetaminophen were significantly removed from the aqueous phase during activated sludge treatment. This implicates biotransformation as a primary removal process given the low sorption potential of these chemicals. Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim also have low sorption potential, but are more chemically stabile such that only a small quantity of each was removed during activated sludge treatment. Ibuprofen, 4-nonylphenol and triclosan were significantly removed from the aqueous phase during activated sludge treatment, likely as a result of sorption processes as evidenced by high log Kow values and high concentrations of triclosan and 4-nonylphenol in analyzed biosolids.

    • Project Period: 2003

      Urinary Pesticide Metabolite Levels and Reproductive Effects: A Prospective, Pilot Study of Partners of Pregnant Women in Iowa

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      Study for Future Families
      Project Investigator(s)
      Paul Romitti, Department of Epidemiology, The University of Iowa
      Amy Sparks, Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Urology, The University of Iowa
      Abstract:

      This study hypothesized that the variance in semen quality between geographic locations may be related to recent exposure to environmental toxins, particularly agricultural chemicals. Prospective, multi-center studies have demonstrated geographical variations in semen quality. A recent study of semen quality in four US cities found male partners of pregnant women a rural center (MO) to have significantly lower sperm counts and motility than men recruited from urban centers (NY, MN and CA). A small study of men from this population residing in MO demonstrated an association between semen quality and levels of urinary pesticide metabolites, while men in MN had few detectable levels. The study proposed to examine the relationship between semen quality and urinary pesticide metabolites in partners of pregnant women receiving obstetrical care at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. 

    • Project Period: 2002

      Iowa Community Private Well Study

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      The University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory
      the UI Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC)
      UI Environmental Health Sciences Research Center (EHSRC)
      the United States Geological Survey
      the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
      County Environmental Health Specialists
      Project Investigator(s)
      Peter Weyer, David Riley: University of Iowa (UI) Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination
      Jessica Ferrie, UI Dept. of Occupational and Environmental Health, UI College of Public Health
      Michael Wichman, Lorelei Kurimski, Terence Cain, UI Hygienic Laboratory
      David Osterberg: UI Environmental Health Sciences Research Center
      Brent Parker, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
      Douglas Schnoebelen: U.S. Geological Survey
      Abstract:

      Conducted from June 2002-January 2003, the study aimed to achieve a better understanding of private drinking water wells in incorporated Iowa towns not served by a public water supply system. Water samples were analyzed by the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory (duplicate samples analyzed at USGS laboratories) for common use pesticides, nitrogen compounds, inorganics, bacteria, and VOCs. The study design contained a random and focused component. * Random Study Methodology: Approximately 103 drinking water wells from towns that did not have a public water supply were selected. A weighted distribution of households from US Census data was employed to select wells (i.e.- towns with a higher number of households stood a greater chance of having a well selected). County environmental health specialists visited these towns, located randomly generated points on maps, and found the nearest building to draw a water sample. Fifty distinct towns had one or more wells sampled. * Focus Study Methodology: The focus study employed the use of existing databases of potential contamination sources to intensively sample 15 communities. Selection criteria for these towns considered: towns utilizing private septic systems, existence of underground storage tanks, location of agricultural grain and chemical storage dealerships, regional hydrogeology, active and closed landfills, feedlots, railroad systems, industries in violation of wastewater permit applications (including stormwater permits), nearby uncontrolled sites identified by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)/Superfund sites. 

    • Project Period: 1999

      Antibiotics in Surface Water

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      United States Geological Survey
      Project Investigator(s)
      Peter Weyer, Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination, The University of Iowa
      Dana Kolpin, United States Geological Survey, Water Resource Division, Iowa District
      Abstract:

      In 1999, CHEEC and the Iowa District of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) joined in a collaboratively funded project investigating the presence of antibiotics/antimicrobials in Iowa surface waters. The study objectives are to provide baseline data for types of antimicrobial compounds present, concentrations, and geographical distribution. Thirty sites from across the state were selected representing a cross section of large and small watersheds and stream flows. Of secondary importance of this study was for laboratory methods development for detection of these compounds. Thirty-one sites from across the state were sampled, representing large and small stream flows. Streams were sampled once during the first peak runoff event following snow melt in April 1999. These 15 distinct antibiotics were sampled: carbadox, spectinomycin, sulfamethoxazol, erythromycin, sulfamethazine, trimethoprin, erythromycin - H2O, sulfachloropyrizadine, tylosin, ivermectin, sulfadimethoxine, virginiamycin, lincomycin, sulfamerazine, and tetracyclines (total). Analytical results show that 16 of the 31 stream samples had positive detections for antibiotics. Sulfamethazine was detected in 10 samples, tetracycline (total) in 6, and lincomycin in 1. One stream had two detections of a single compound. All of the concentrations were below .5 micrograms/L (parts per billion). The results of this work were first presented at a 1999 USGS meeting titled Effects of Animal Feeding Operations on Hydrologic Resources and the Environment. Proceedings are available at http://water.usgs.gov/owq/AFO/proceedings/afo/index.html.

      Findings from this initial reconnaissance laid the groundwork for the the Kolpin et al journal article in Environmental Science and Technology, titled Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and Other Organic Wastewater Contaminants in U.S. Streams, 1999-2000: A National Reconnaissance; Environ. Sci. Technol., 36 (6), 1202 -1211, 2002

      For a more thorough discussion of emerging contamination of water sources, see the USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program.

    • Project Period: 1999

      Analysis of Environmental Exposures in Hoop Structures and Conventional Confinement Swine Barns

      Collaborating Institution(s)
      The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University
      The University of Iowa Office of Vice President for Research
      Project Investigator(s)
      Peter Thorne, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, The University of Iowa
      Dwaine Bundy, Department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University
      Abstract:

      A major health concern in swine farming is inhalation of toxicants, which may lead to significant morbidity among swine farmers. Exposures to hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, dust and endotoxin have been linked to a number of health problems in workers, including upper airway diseases, lower airway diseases and interstitial diseases. In addition, outdoor air quality in proximity to swine operations has become a major concern in recent years. Neighbor complaints have been increasing as swine units become larger and more densely located in the neighboring community. While health effects related to odors from livestock units are very difficult to determine, the public perception that odors contain toxic substances has resulted in reports of headaches, nausea and other health complaints in neighbors. In recent years, hoop structures have emerged as an alternative method of housing hogs, and appear to have environmental benefits (related to air and water quality) in comparison to conventional confinement facilities. The purposes of this study are to 1) quantify airborne contaminant concentrations and exposure duration in hoop barns and conventional confinement barns controlling for location, season, micrometeorological conditions, animal density and other factors, and 2) to compare the exposure of airborne contaminants around and downwind of hoop structures and conventional confinement structures. The study will be conducted utilizing a pork producing farm with 3-5 hoop barns and 3-5 confinement buildings on a nearby site. The 15-month project will be a joint effort of researchers from The University of Iowa and Iowa State University; field sampling will be coordinated between study staffs, and laboratory analyses will be conducted utilizing labs at both institutions (ISU Odor Laboratory, ISU Animal Science Department, UI Inhalation Toxicology Facility), which specialize in specific contaminant identification and quantification.
      CHEEC, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and the UI Office of the Vice President for Research conducted a study titled 'Analysis of Environmental Exposures in Hoop Structures and Conventional Confinement Swine Barns' . The study was an effort to quantify and describe airborne compounds present in both both types of swine production facilities and potential exposures to workers and area contaminations. Research was completed 2000.