OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Superfund researchers to explore nation’s pollution issues, impacts

11/09/2010

PORTLAND, Ore. – About 300 leading researchers who are participating in the nation’s Superfund Research Program on some of the major pollution problems in the United States will meet Nov. 10-12 in Portland to present research findings, plan future activity, engage the public and discuss their initiatives.

Topics will include exposure of Native American Umatilla tribes to “PAH” pollutants, fetal risks from arsenic exposure, impacts of the Gulf Coast oil spill, remediation of heavy metals in soils, pesticide contamination, pollution in China, the Superfund site at the Portland harbor, and many other subjects.

The professional conference, hosted by the Superfund Research Program at Oregon State University, will be held at The Nines Hotel and Conference Center in Portland. It is open to anyone. More information on the conference, agenda, presentations, fees and attendance can be obtained at http://bit.ly/aSeAnO

The session on Wednesday, Nov. 10, is available separately at a reduced attendance charge of $75. And an educational and informational video clip program on the community effects of chemicals, which is free and open to the public, will also be held Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. in the hotel ballroom.

Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer will present a keynote address to the conference on Thursday at 9:10 a.m., followed by a presentation by William Suk, director of the Superfund Research Program.

“Much of this conference will be focused on community outreach issues and how to get people involved,” said David Williams, professor and director of the Superfund Research Program at OSU. “The people in these programs are the research arm of Superfund issues, not the ones involved in regulation and cleanup. We want people to understand what we’re doing, why it’s important, what role they can play and how these pollution issues affect their communities.”

The community dialogue and involvement is essential to developing cleanup programs that are widely accepted and ultimately successful, Williams said.

At OSU, the recently-funded Superfund Research Program focuses on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, or PAH pollution that occurs as a byproduct of almost any form of combustion, whether it’s a coal power plant, an automobile, cigarettes or a campfire. There’s a growing understanding of the re-emerging health risks posed by PAHs, Williams said, and the research program coordinated at OSU is adding to that body of science.

Studies are under way on developmental toxicity of PAH particles, relevance to skin cancer, possible transplacental effect on fetuses, and other issues.The nation’s Superfund Research Program is supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science.