In the News Archives

October 17 2013

Hall and Peters present Columbia SRP research findings at the 15th International Conference of Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health and the SRP Annual Meeting

Megan Hall and Brandilyn Peters, members of Dr. Mary Gamble's Project 3, Impact of Nutrition on Arsenic-Induced Epigenetic Dysregulation, presented their research at the Superfund Research Program 2013 Annual Meeting, held on October 15-17 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Hall, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Mailman School of Public Health, gave an oral presentation on, “Urinary Creatinine: The Grand Enigma – Implications of Its Use as a Urine Dilution Adjustment Factor in Epidemiologic Studies”. Ms. Peters, PhD Candidate with the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University,  participated In the poster session presenting , "Arsenic Metabolism and Renal Function in an Arsenic-exposed Population in Bangladesh." Both SRP researchers showcased posters on their respective topics at the 15th International conference of the Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health, held from September 24-27 at the East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.


October 15 2013

RTC Scientist Stuart Braman Presents Student Videos at SRP Annual Meeting

Dr. Stuart Braman, Columbia SRP, presenting Barnard Student Videos on Arsenic in Drinking Water at SRP Annual Meeting, October 15, 2013, Baton Rouge

Columbia SRP scientist Dr. Stuart Braman presented both a poster and a talk on "Multimedia for Public Engagement" at the Superfund Research Program Annual Meeting in Baton Rouge. This was part of the day-long session for the SRP Research Translation and Community Engagement Core scientists and staff. The videos Dr. Braman presented were created by undergraduate students at Barnard College.

Columbia's SRP RTC has been working with state and local officials in northern New Jersey to provide awareness and educational materials to homeowners with private wells in areas where the chance is significant that naturally occurring arsenic will be present in drinking water at levels above state standards.  Barnard College undergraduates in two sustainable development workshops worked under RTC guidance to create three videos, a website and a brochure. The first video is addressed to children and its goal is to encourage children to talk to their parents about testing well water for arsenic, the second video addresses the same message to parents directly and goes on to briefly discuss treatment, and the third focuses on demystifying the water testing process.  The Columbia RTC will devote the next 9 months to working on distribution of the videos before beginning work on the 4th video.  New materials developed will take advantage of the research undertaken by the Columbia SRP CEC to identify specific barriers to water testing and treatment among private well owners in Maine. .

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September 25 2013

NYT article highlights CU SRP research on Arsenic in Aquifer supplying Hanoi drinking water

CU SRP scientists Lex van Geen and Ben Bostick, Charlie Harvey (MIT), and Dr. P. T. K. Trang from CETASD/Hanoi University of Science.

New York Times article, Arsenic Contamination Threatens Water in Hanoi, by Donald G. McNeil, Jr.  highlights the September Nature publication led by CU SRP scientists Lex van Geen and Ben Bostick along with Charles Harvey (MIT) and their Vietnamese colleagues, including Dr. P. T. K. Trang from CETASD/Hanoi University of Science. Their research indicates that while arsenic is leaching into an aquifer that serves as drinking-water for Hanoi, the speed of contamination may be delayed due to retardation of arsenic transport in the Pleistocene aquifer.

Nature published on September 11, 2013 a paper by CU SRP scientists Alexander van Geen, Benjamin Bostik, Kathleen Radloff, Zahid Aziz, and Jacob L. Mey on "Retardation of arsenic transport through a Pleistocene aquifer". Here they present findings from their study on the contamination of a Pleistocene aquifer near Hanoi, Vietnam. Their study reveals that "changes in groundwater flow conditions and the redox state of the aquifer sands induced by groundwater pumping caused the lateral intrusion of arsenic contamination more than 120 metres from a Holocene aquifer into a previously uncontaminated Pleistocene aquifer.We also find that arsenic adsorbs onto the aquifer sands and that there is a 16–20-fold retardation in the extent of the contamination relative to the reconstructed lateral movement of groundwater over the same period. Our findings suggest that arsenic contamination of Pleistocene aquifers in south and southeast Asia as a consequence of increasing levels of groundwater pumping may have been delayed by the retardation of arsenic transport."

The research presented here was fund by the US National Science Foundation and the NIEHS Superfund Research Program.

Additional authors include Vi Mai Lan, Nguyen-Ngoc Mai, Phu Dao Manh and Pham Hung Viet, of the Hanoi University of Science, Mason Stahl and Charles Harvey from MIT, Beth Weinman from Vanderbilt University along with researchers from Anchor QEA, Eawag Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology,Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Suggested citation:
van Geen, A., Bostick, B., Thi Kim Trang, P., et al. 2013. Retardation of arsenic transport through a Pleistocene aquifer. Nature 501, 204–207 doi:10.1038/nature12444 (onine 12 September 2013).

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September 24 2013

Ana Navas-Acien publishes paper on Association Between Exposure to Low to Moderate Arsenic Levels and Incident Cardiovascular Disease

As part of the CU SRP Seminar series on September 16, 2013, Ana Navas-Acien, Associate Professor from the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, presented, "Low-to-moderate arsenic exposure in the US: Health implications for American Indian communities"On September 24th, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a paper by Dr. Navas-Acien and her colleagues entitled, "Association Between Exposure to Low to Moderate Arsenic Levels and Incident Cardiovascular Disease: A Prospective Cohort Study". Please see below a link to this paper and to Dr. Navas-Acien's presentation for the Columbia SRP Seminar series.

In addition, Columbia SRP scientist Yu Chen along with Columbia SRP External Advisory Board member Margaret Karagas from Dartmouth wrote an editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Dr. Navas-Acien's publication and research. They conclude, "In summary, the Strong Heart Study alerts us to what may be a new risk factor for CVD in the United States, consistent with data from other geographic regions. It also poses new questions about the effect of arsenic exposure from not only drinking water but from foods, such as grains, and in sensitive time periods that may enhance lifelong risk for CVD as a result of arsenic exposure." See below for the link to the entire editiorial.

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May 30 2013

CU SRP Student Caitlin Howe presents new research findings

Caitlin Howe Columbia University SRP PhD Student

As part of the final session of the 2013 SRP Trainee Webinar Series, Columbia SRP graduate student Caitlin Howe presented, "Interplay between S-adenosylmethionine, folate, cobalamin, and arsenic methylation in Bangladesh" on Thursday, May 30th. Ms. Howe is a PhD student in Dr. Mary Gamble's laboratory working on Columbia SRP Project 3, Impact of nutrition on arsenic-induced epigenetic dysregulation. She presented her work as a poster at the 2012 Annual SRP Meeting and won first prize in the category of biomedical posters.

Chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic (InAs) through contaminated drinking water is a major problem worldwide. Ms. Howe's presentation will examine how InAs undergoes hepatic methylation to form mono- (MMA) and di- methyl (DMA) arsenical species thereby facilitating As elimination.  Both reactions are catalyzed by arsenic methyltransferase (AS3MT) using S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) as the methyl donor. SAM biosynthesis depends on folate-dependent one-carbon metabolism. The objective of this project was to test the hypothesis that blood SAM is associated with increased As methylation in Bangladeshi adults.  Howe additionally wished to test the hypothesis that the associations between SAM and methylated As metabolites are dependent on folate and cobalamin levels.


May 20 2013

Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES) Delegation visits Columbia SRP

Lex van Geen, Beizhan Yan, Liansheng He, Lijing Wang, Yan Zheng, Yun Zhou, Graziano, Chunmiao Zheng, Jing Su, Yuhong Jiang, Yonghai Jiang, Qiang Yan

On May 20th, Columbia Superfund Research Program hosted a delegation of six scientists from the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES). The scientists included Liansheng He, Lijing Wang, Yun Zhou, Jing Su, Yuhong Jiang, and Yonghai Jiang. The visit was arranged by Columbia CEC PI Yan Zheng. Columbia SRP scientist Beizhan Yan and former SRP PhD student, now Associate Research Scientist at Lamont, Qiang Yang gave the visitors a tour of the laboratories at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. This was followed at Columbia's Health Sciences campus with presentations and discussions by CRAES and CU SRP scientists on issues related to Arsenic in groundwater. Zhou Yun, the Director of the International Cooperation Center, gave a talk on "Groundwater Environmental Management and Challenges in China" which included an overview on how CRAES is tackling China's very complicated environmental health issues. Please find a link to the presentation below. The delegates also visited the US EPA Region 2 headquarters earlier in the day where EPA introduced them to Superfund, risk evaluation, and risk management with specific presentations on VOCs, SVOCs, metals, and pesticides.


May 9 2013

Columbia CEC MARCH Advisory Committee Initial Meeting

MARCH Advisory Committee at May meeting

The first meeting of the Maine Arsenic Reduction for Community Health (MARCH) Advisory Committee was held in Readfield, Maine on May 9, 2013. The MARCH partnership grew out of our ongoing community engagement core (CEC) activities. The committee brings together residents of the CEC’s project area in Central Maine that also represent local government, Maine CDC, education, USGS, and the well drilling and treatment field. MARCH aims, through direct engagement with community to enable vulnerable households including those with children, to regularly test their well water for arsenic and other water quality parameters, to have access to information of water quality test results and treatment options, and to take actions to mitigate arsenic in most effective and economic ways. MARCH works with all its partners and members of the community towards eliminating the exposure to arsenic and other contaminants in domestic well water to improve community health. This is a goal adopted by the MARCH advisory committee on behalf of the rural community affected by arsenic and other water contaminants in Maine.

During the first meeting participants reviewed the current knowledge on the arsenic problem in central Maine and the findings of the CEC’s community well testing and treatment surveys implemented in January 2013. Discussion included reasons households decide to test and treat their well water and strategies to engage the community to promote these practices. Plans were made for an NIH Public Environmental Health Partnership (PEHP) Research to Action grant proposal to develop and implement a public health action plan for arsenic mitigation. Committee members gave advice on proposed activities like a longitudinal cohort study on treatment efficacy and a No Arsenic Well Left Behind testing campaign. MARCH Advisory Committee participants included Cheryl Marvinney, Maranacook Community High School; Ike Goodwin, Goodwin Well Drilling; Joanne Joy, Healthy Communities of the Capital Area; and Martha Nielsen, Manchester Select Board and USGS, as well as Columbia CEC scientists Yan Zheng and Sara Flanagan.


April 4 2013

Webinar Archives available for NRC Inorganic Arsenic Symposium

Dr. Joe Graziano, Chairs NRC Inorganic Arsenic Meeting, 5 April 2013

The NRC workshop on Inorganic Arsenic: Scientific Considerations for Hazard Identification and Dose-Response Analysis, chaired by CU SRP Director Joe Graziano, provided an indepth coverage of scientific findings related to health effects from exposure to inorganic arsenic.Speakers included Kenneth Cantor (NCI), David Thomas (EPA), Mary Gable (Columbia University), Michael Waalkes  (NIEHS), Andrew Rooney (US National Toxicology Program), and many more distinguished scientists.
Archives of the webcast are available via the link below.

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March 11 2013

Novel approach for field testing arsenic in tubewell water piloted by Lex van Geen and Chander Kumar Singh

Columbia SRP Associate Director Alexander van Geen and TERI University’s Chander Kumar Singh have joined forces to pilot a novel approach for encouraging arsenic testing of tubewell water in India. Millions of tubewells across the Indo-Gangetic plain supply drinking water that is relatively free of microbial contaminants. However, many of these tubewells tap groundwater that is high in arsenic and should be used only for washing. Van Geen and Singh offer a new approach to field testing in order to distinguish safe from unsafe wells, and suggests that people are willing to pay for tubewell testing. They plan to extend this program to 200 villages of Araihazar, Bangladesh, using billboard-sized Google Earth maps of these villages to attract the public’s attention. The online article "Reducing poisoning by arsenic in tubewell water" posted on Ideas for India describes the project in more detail.

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November 13 2012

Director Graziano Selected as Chair for NRC Committee to Review Inorganic Arsenic Risk

Columbia SRP Director Dr. Joseph Graziano will chair the National Research Council (NRC) committee to evaluate critical scientific issues to assess effects from oral exposure to inorganic arsenic. The committee also includes CU SRP Principal Investigator Habibul Ahsan and as well as SRP grantees Maragaret Karagas, Rebecca Fry, and Bob Wright. The committee will plan and conduct a public workshop to gather a variety of perspectives from key stakeholders and the public.

It will then prepare an interim report providing recommendations on how to address these issues in EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessment of inorganic arsenic. After the IRIS assessment is revised by EPA, the committee will then review the assessment to determine whether dose-response relationships between inorganic arsenic and cancer and noncancer effects are appropriately estimated and characterized.

The committee will also determine whether the arsenic document implements the recommendations made in Chapter 7 of the 2011 NRC report on formaldehyde for improving descriptions of methods and criteria for selecting studies, approaches to evaluating critical studies, weight-of-evidence analyses, and justification of modeling approaches in IRIS assessments. A final report will be published when the project is completed at the end of 2015.

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