In the News Archives

December 5 2016 to December 8 2016

NIEHS EHS FEST and SRP Annual Meeting

Sara Flanagan (top left), Tiffany Sanchez (top right), Steve Chillrud and Jeff Blair (bottom left), and Sandra Baptista (bottom right)















As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) held the Environmental Health Science Facilities, Engagement, Science, and Training (EHS FEST) event at the Durham Convention Center in Durham, North Carolina, December 5–8. EHS FEST convened more than 1,200 attendees, including NIEHS grantees, trainees, investigators, community partners, and government collaborators. During the SRP Annual Meeting held on Monday, December 5, Sara Flanagan, doctoral student at the City University of New York and Columbia SRP CEC research associate, presented a poster co-authored with Steven Spayd, Nicholas Procopio, Steven Chillrud, Stuart Braman, James Ross, Robert Marvinney, Andrew Smith, and Yan Zheng titled “Reducing exposure to arsenic from private well water: Who benefits most from traditional testing promotion?” Madhi Saranadasa, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, presented a poster co-authored with Maria Argos, Farzana Jasmine, Faruque Parvez, Mahfuzar Rahman, Tariqul Islam, Rakib Zaman, Mohammad Yunus, Muhammad Kibriya, and Habibul Ahsan titled “Differential gene expression and chronic arsenic exposure in a transcriptome-wide association study of adults in Bangladesh.” Joe Graziano and Nancy LoIacono represented the Columbia SRP at the Administrator’s Meeting.

Columbia SRP researchers presented four posters during the EHS FEST poster sessions held on December 6 and 7. Steven Chillrud presented a poster co-authored with Stuart Braman, Sara Flanagan, Yan Zheng, and Joseph Graziano titled “Private well arsenic-testing outreach pilot targets children, unborn babies through health care providers.” Beizhan Yan presented a poster co-authored with Martin Stute, Reynold Panettieri, James Ross, Brian Mailloux, Matthew Neidell, Lissa Soares, Marilyn Howarth, Xinhua Liu, Pouné Saberi, and Steven Chillrud titled “Association of groundwater constituents with distance to unconventional gas wells and topography in NE Pennsylvania.” Sara Flanagan presented a poster co-authored with Yan Zheng titled “The case for universal screening of private well water quality in the U.S.: Evidence from arsenic.” Tiffany Sanchez presented a poster co-authored with Faruque Parvez, Tariqul Islam, Jagoda Balac, Vesna Slavkovich, Alauddin Ahmed, Rabiul Hasan, Victoria Benoit, Xinhua Liu, Habibul Ahsan, and Joseph Graziano titled “Inorganic arsenic levels in rice are correlated with urinary arsenic: A pilot study quantifying aggregate arsenic exposure in the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS).” The Columbia SRP video “Arsenic in Well Water: Treatment Options” was shown at the Film Festival on Wednesday, December 7. Sandra Baptista, Columbia SRP RTC Co-PI, presented the "National Priorities List (NPL) Superfund Footprint: Site, Population, and Environmental Characteristics Mapper" at the Sensors and Technologies Fair on December 6. Steven Chillrud, Columbia SRP RTC Co-PI, and Jeff Blair of AethLabs presented “Modular Monitors for Particulates, Black Carbon, PAHs/VOCs and Bioaerosols for Public Health Studies” at the Sensors and Technologies Fair on December 7. Chillrud also participated in the Workshop on Commercializing Sensor Technologies on Thursday, December 8.

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August 2 2016

Ana Navas-Acien Participates in NHLBI Forum on Heart, Lung, and Sleep Disorders in AI/AN/NH Youth

NIEHS Program Officer Symma Finn (left) and Columbia SRP Scientist Ana Navas-Acien (right)

Columbia SRP scientist Dr. Ana Navas-Acien (Projects 1 and 2) participated in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Forum on Heart, Lung, and Sleep Disorders in American Indian / Alaskan Native / Native Hawaiian (AI/AN/NH) Youth held August 2-3, 2016 in Bethesda, Maryland. The NHLBI forum convened experts to identify knowledge gaps and research opportunities that can facilitate the prevention and future treatment interventions of heart, lung, and sleep disorder disease outcomes among AI/AN/NH youth. Navas-Acien’s presentation, on Day 1 of the forum, addressed "Environmental risk factors for cardiovascular disease (well water contaminants)" with a focus on arsenic. This two-day meeting was co-funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

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July 21 2016

NIEHS Webinar Features Yan Zheng Speaking on Arsenic and Private Well Testing in the U.S.

The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) presented the fourth session in the Risk e-Learning webinar series SRP Water Innovation - An Integrated Approach to Sustainable Solutions. Session IV, Communicating Risk and Engaging Communities: Arsenic and Well Testing, on July 21, 2016. The session featured efforts by SRP Centers to engage communities on private water related to well testing and treatment alternatives. Columbia SRP Community Engagement Core PI Yan Zheng presented, “The Case for Universal Screening of Private Well Water Quality in the U.S.: Evidence from Arsenic.” Other speakers included Rebecca Fry (Director UNC  SRP), Mark Borsuk (Dartmouth College SRP Center), Neasha Graves (UNC SRP Center), Caroline Armijo (Residents for Coal Ash Cleanup), and Janick Artiola (University of Arizona SRP Center). An archive of this seminar is available for free download and replay at the link provided below.

Related link(s):
PDF icon Zheng-ReL-Water-4.pdf2.43 MB

June 19 2016 to June 23 2016

Columbia SRP Scientists Attend 6th International Congress on Arsenic in the Environment

Ana Navas-Acien and Poojitha Balakrishnan in front of the Stockholm City Hall

Columbia SRP scientists traveled to Stockholm, Sweden to participate in the 6th International Congress on Arsenic in the Environment (As2016), held June 19–23, 2016. The Congress was organized by the International Society of Groundwater for Sustainable Development (ISGSD). The theme of As2016 was arsenic research and global sustainability. Dr. Ana Navas-Acien delivered a plenary presentation, "Arsenic and cardiovascular disease: 100 years advancing epidemiologic research." Dr. Navas-Acien also chaired a session on Arsenic and Health. Dr. Faruque Parvez gave an invited keynote talk, "Arsenic exposure, non-malignant respiratory outcomes and immune modulation in the health effects of arsenic longitudinal study (HEALS).” Dr. Parvez also chaired a session on Arsenic and Genomic Studies. During this session, Dr. Poojitha Balakrishnan, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health working with Dr. Navas-Acien, presented, “AS3MT, Locus 10q24 and arsenic metabolism biomarkers in American Indians: The Strong Heart Family Study.” Columbia SRP Associate Director Dr. Alexander van Geen and Dr. Kazi Matin Ahmed from the University of Dhaka presented a keynote talk, "Mitigation of the impact of groundwater arsenic on human health and rice yield in Bangladesh: solutions for overcoming the current stagnation." Dr. van Geen moderated a panel discussion, "Scaling safe drinking water access – past, present and way forward for sustainable development solutions." He also presented a progress report on the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) entitled "International drilling to recover aquifer sands (IDRAs)" and solicited community input for the next ICDP proposal. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D. student Ms. Brittany Huhmann, advised by Dr. Charles Harvey, presented her research in collaboration with Dr. van Geen, "Replacement of arsenic-contaminated soil for improved rice yields in Bangladesh". Dr. van Geen substituted for Dr. Abida Farooqi from Quaid-I-Azam University in Islamabad to present their collaborative work, "Arsenic exposure in drinking water a growing health threat: well testing in outskirts of Lahore to identify wells low in arsenic to mitigate the As crisis in Pakistan." Dr. van Geen also substituted for Ms. Runti Choudhury, Ph.D. student in the Department of Civil Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati and recipient of a Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship, to present their collaborative work, "Sedimentary controls on arsenic mobilization in groundwater of aquifers in the Brahmaputra River Valley in Assam." 

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April 6 2016

Human Rights Watch Report Draws Attention to Arsenic in Bangladesh’s Rural Drinking Water Supply

The international nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch investigated the issue of arsenic in the drinking water of rural Bangladesh and on April 6, 2016 released a report of this study titled Nepotism and Neglect: The Failing Response to Arsenic in the Drinking Water of Bangladesh’s Rural Poor. The Human Rights Watch report finds that the official response to arsenic contamination of drinking water in Bangladesh’s rural villages is failing. It identifies a need for a comprehensive national-level arsenic mitigation strategy for Bangladesh and recommends that the government of Bangladesh adopt a national plan to end arsenic exposure through drinking water and target new water points in the areas where the risk of arsenic contamination is high. The report is based on field work conducted in five villages in Bangladesh, 134 interviews, and the analysis of approximately 125,000 government water points installed between 2006 and 2012. The Human Rights Watch investigation was informed by a research study conducted in Araihazar by Columbia SRP scientists Alexander van Geen, Kazi Matin Ahmed, Ershad Bin Ahmed, Imtiaz Choudhurry, M. Rajib Mozumder, Benjamin Bostick, and Brian Mailloux and published in the March 2016 issue of the Journal of Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development in the article “Inequitable allocation of deep community wells for reducing arsenic exposure in Bangladesh.”

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December 2 2015

Yan Zheng Delivers Seminar on Arsenic in Well Water

Yan Zheng presenting at LDEO (Photo credit: G. Dinnegan)














On Wednesday, December 2, 2015, CU SRP Community Engagement Core PI Yan Zheng presented a geochemistry seminar at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory about her work on arsenic in well water titled, "Tackling the Hidden Poison in America’s Well Water."

December 1 2015

Smartphone Apps for Citizen Scientists Workshop on Water Contaminants

Panelists from left to right: Robert Newton, Lex van Geen, Karen Pagliaro-Meyer, Diana Eddowes, Samuel Janis, and John Feighery (Photo by S. Baptista)

The second in a series of four workshops on Smartphone Apps for Citizen Scientists was held at the Earth Institute on Tuesday, December 1, 2015. This workshop focused on the topic of water contaminants and featured presentations by: Diana Eddowes, Program Manager, Earthwatch, "FreshWater Watch: Smart technologies helping global communities monitor their environment"; John Feighery, Co-Founder, mWater, "The mWater surveyor platform and mobile app"; Samuel Janis, Project Director, Billion Oyster Project, "Environmental monitoring in the age of the app: Building a networked solution for middle school kids"; Alexander van Geen, Associate Director of the Columbia SRP, Lamont Research Professor, Geochemistry, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Earth Institute, Columbia University, "Disseminating well-water quality data with an app while respecting privacy: Arsenic in New Jersey and Bangladesh"; and Karen Pagliaro-Meyer, Privacy Officer, Columbia University Medical Center, "What you need to know about privacy." Following the presentations, a discussion with the panelists was moderated by Co-Director of Columbia University’s Urban Design Lab Patricia Culligan.

November 18 2015 to November 20 2015

2015 Superfund Research Program Annual Meeting

Left to Right: Faruque Parvez, Sandra Baptista, Joe Graziano, Mary Gamble, Caitlin Howe, Jessica Cox, Jing Sun, Tiffany Sanchez, Brian Mailloux















The 2015 NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) annual meeting was held November 18th to 20th at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) SRP Center hosted the event. The PROTECT Center is a multi-project, multi-institution collaboration including Northeastern University, University of Puerto Rico, and University of Michigan.

CU SRP participants presented a total of eleven posters. Jing Sun won an award in the environmental sciences and engineering category of the annual poster competition for her poster, "Use of reactive transport modeling for understanding and designing the magnetite based arsenic immobilization strategy." Jing also presented a poster titled, "Use of oxalic acid for mobilizing arsenic from contaminated sediments and decreasing vulnerability to reduction" and a poster co-authored with CU SRP scientists Ben Bostick, Steve Chillrud, Brian Mailloux, and Lex van Geen titled, "Insights from a kinetics-based model describing aqueous arsenic concentrations at Superfund sites."

On Day 1 of the meeting, during the SRP Research Translation and Community Engagement Cores (RTC-CEC) Program, Sandra Baptista, CU SRP RTC Co-PI, participated in the workgroup, “Communicating Science Online” and CU SRP RTC/CEC Co-I Stuart Braman participated in the workgroup, “Reporting Back Exposure Data to Individuals and Communities.” Braman presented an RTC poster co-authored with Steve Chillrud, Sara Flanagan, and Yan Zheng on, "Collaboration to reduce arsenic exposure from private well water in New Jersey.” Yan Zheng, CU SRP CEC PI, presented an RTC poster co-authored with Sara Flanagan, Karyn Butts, Andrew Smith, and Robert Marvinney on, "Arsenic in private well water: collaboration on community engagement in Maine" and an RTC poster co-authored with Joseph Ayotte on, "Tackling arsenic exposure from private well water in rural American communities." Brian Mailloux, Co-I on Projects 4 & 5, presented an environmental science and engineering poster titled, "Metagenomic and radiocarbon analysis of PLFA, DNA, RNA, and proteins to better understand arsenic impacted aquifers in Bangladesh."

On Day 2 Faruque Parvez presented a biomedical poster, "Arsenic exposure, non-malignant respiratory outcomes and immune modulation in the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS) cohort." CU SRP Project 3 PI Mary Gamble presented a poster co-authored by Maria Argos, Farzana Jasmine, Brandon Pierce, Vesna Slavkovich, Joe Graziano, Muhammad Kibriya, and Habib Ahsan titled, "Epigenetic and gene expression effects of arsenic exposure." CU SRP Student Caitlin Howe, who works on Project 3 with Dr. Gamble, presented a poster, "Sex-specific influences of arsenic and nutritional indices on post-translational histone modifications in Bangladeshi adults." Jessica Cox, Postdoctoral Fellow, Project 3, presented a poster, "Arsenic exposure and global %5mc and %5hmC in a population of Bangladeshi adults."

On Day 3, during a scientific session on Sustainable Communities, SRP Student Tiffany Sanchez, who works on Project 2 with CU SRP Director Joe Graziano, presented a biomedical talk titled, "Identifying intermediary pulmonary effects among Bangladeshi adolescents with known life stage water arsenic exposure.”

Bernice Ramos-Perez represented the CU SRP at the Administrators’ Program.

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October 30 2015

Joe Graziano and Ben Bostick quoted in Smithsonian Magazine article

Columbia SRP Director Dr. Joseph Graziano and CU SRP PI Dr. Benjamin Bostick are quoted in the October 30, 2015 Smithsonian  Magazine  article, "Arsenic and Old Graves: Civil War-Era Cemeteries May Be Leaking Toxins" by Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato.

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October 29 2015

Jing Sun Completes Ph.D. Thesis Defense

Jing Sun defends her Ph.D. thesis

Congratulations to Dr. Jing Sun who successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis, “Developing improved strategies of remediating arsenic contaminated aquifers,” at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory on Thursday, October 29, 2015. Dr. Sun completed her dissertation in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences under the supervision of Columbia SRP PIs Drs. Benjamin Bostick and Steven Chillrud. She has been working on Project 4 (Arsenic, Iron, Sulfur and Organic Carbon Speciation and their Impact on Groundwater Arsenic) under the direction of Dr. Bostick and on Project 5 (Application of Enhanced Mitigation Methods for Groundwater Arsenic at US Superfund Sites) under the direction of Dr. Chillrud.


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