Archived Announcements

May 26 2014

Norm, Ability, and Attitude Barriers Impede Testing for Arsenic in Maine Private Wells

On May 26, 2014, the journal Science of the Total Environment published online a second paper this year by Columbia's Community Engagement Core scientists Sara Flanagan and Yan Zheng  and study partner Robert Marvinney from the Maine Geological Survey. The paper “Influences on domestic well water testing behavior in a Central Maine area with frequent groundwater arsenic occurrence" analyzes the results from a 2013 household survey responses from over 500 residents of 13 towns in Central Maine. The survey gathers information on the population's well water testing practices and key behaviors which influence testing for arsenic in an area with high well-water dependency and naturally occurring groundwater arsenic.

Whether households tested for arsenic is significantly associated with knowing or believing the following: 1) extended exposure to arsenic increases related health risks, 2) contact information for well-water testing, 3) testing does not take too much time, and 4) neighbors regularly test their water. However, the study also found that well owners often believe that they are at lower risk of arsenic exposure than their neighbors.

The paper concludes that households with private wells in areas with high concentrations of arsenic may not be testing for arsenic due to a combination of norm, ability, and attitude factors and barriers.

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Announcement type: CU SRP Publications

April 30 2014

SRP 2014 Trainee Webinar Series April Session features Columbia SRP Graduate Student Jing Sun

The SRP 2014 Trainee Webinar Series highlights the outstanding work being conducted by graduate and postdoctoral students conducting SRP-funded research. Specifically, this year's series consists of presentations from Poster Award Winners from the previous SRP Annual Meeting. Jing Sun won first prize at the SRP 2013 Annual Meeting for her non-biomedical poster. Her webinar will discuss the research presented in her award-winning poster.

Ms Sun, a Columbia SRP Graduate Student at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, works on Columbia SRP Project 4 (Arsenic, Iron, Sulfur and Organic Carbon Speciation, and Their Impact on Groundwater Arsenic) under the direction of PI Benjamin Bostick and on Project 5  (Application of Enhanced Mitigation Methods for Groundwater As at US Superfund Sites) with PI Steven Chillrud. One approach for remediating arsenic-contaminated aquifers involves stimulating iron mineral transformations that immobilize arsenic in the solid phase through sorption or precipitation. Despite much research, the immobilization strategies are often ineffective, in part because iron host minerals are often sensitive to redox changes. Since magnetite (Fe3O4) is stable under most redox conditions at Superfund sites, Sun has been performing laboratory-scale experiments to examine its potential as a long-term arsenic sink. The study presented here focused on a series of flow-through columns, loaded with reduced aquifer sediments from the Dover Landfill Superfund site. This study was designed to stimulate the formation of magnetite which successfully sequestered arsenic from solution, to test its ability of maintaining arsenic retention under changing conditions, and then to evaluate its potential to immobilize additional arsenic flowing into the system. Sun’s data demonstrate that the adsorption capacity and the stability of solid-phase arsenic greatly increased in amended sediments. These findings suggest that magnetite, produced via simultaneous addition of ferrous iron and nitrate, is a promising target mineral for long-term arsenic remediation.

Peter Wagner, a trainee with the Harvard SRP, will give a talk on RNA-seq Gives Insights into Lead Neurotoxicity in Neural Stem Cells as part of this webinar series. As an undergraduate at Columbia University, Peter worked with CU SRP scientist Brian Mailloux.


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Announcement type: CU SRP Announcements

April 13 2014

Factors Influencing Homeowner Response to Arsenic in Private Drinking Wells

Columbia's Community Engagement Core scientists Sara Flanagan, Qiang Yang, and Yan Zheng collaborating with Robert Marvinney and Robert Johnston of the Maine Geological Survey co-authored the paper, "Dissemination of well water arsenic results to homeowners in Central Maine: Influences on mitigation behavior and continued risksfor exposure". The paper is available online as of April 13th and in press with the journal, Science of the Total Environment.

The researchers have conducted a survey in central Maine of 386 households who were notified 3-7 years earlier that their well water contained arsenic (As) above 10 μg/L. The follow-up survey found that 43% of the households had installed water treatment systems, an additional 30% took other protective actions such as drinking bottled water, and the remaining 27% did not take action. This study looks at socio-demographic and psychological factors that may have influenced which actions/non-actions were taken in response to receiving As test results. Risk perception that the untreated water is not safe to drink and the belief that reducing the water As would increase home value were identified as significant predictors of having taken protective action for As; among those that did act on test results, socioeconomic factors and confidence in one's ability to maintain a treatment system influenced the decision of whether to install a home treatment system or to avoid drinking from the well. Water samples collected from the tap in a subset of these households with treatment systems in place revealed that treatment failure and continued As exposure is a risk even when a homeowner has taken the protective action to install a system.

Suggested citation:

Flanagan, S. V., Marvinney, R. G., Johnston, R. A., Yang, Q., Zheng, Y. Dissemination of well water arsenic results to homeowners in Central Maine: Influences on mitigation behavior and continued risks for exposure. Science of The Total Environment. In Press, Available online 13 April 2014.

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Announcement type: CU SRP Publications

April 1 2014

Water Arsenic >= 5 mug/L pose possible threat to children

Environmental Health has published in its April 2014 edition the Columbia SRP paper,  "A cross-sectional study of well water arsenic and child IQ in Maine schoolchildren." CU SRP Project 2 scientist Gail Wasserman is the lead author. Her Columbia collaborators include Xinhua Liu, Nancy J LoIacono, Jennie Kline, Pam Factor-Litvak, Alexander van Geen, Jacob L Mey, Diane Levy, and Joseph H Graziano. Richard Abramson formerly with Readfield ME Public Schools and Amy Schwartz at the University of New Hampshire also contributed to this paper.

The authors start with a description of past studies. Earlier research by the CU SRP team focused on dose-dependent adverse associations between consumption of arsenic (As)- contaminated water from household wells and intellectual function in young Bangladeshi children. Their  initial work with 6- and 10-year olds, after adjustment for social factors related to intellectual function, indicated that water arsenic concentration (WAs) was significantly negatively related to WPPSI-III and WISC-III Performance (nonverbal ability) scores, but, in most instances, not to other components of intelligence, such as Verbal scores.  A more recent study of Bangladeshi 9-10 year olds, resulted in marginally significant associations between WAs and both Verbal Comprehension and Working Memory scores from the WISC-IV, after adjustments for socio-demographic features and for co-occurring exposure to manganese in drinking wate.  Water Arsenic was unrelated to other aspects of intellectual functioning. These and other studies in different populations have suggested that As exposure may affect early development. However, there has been little consistency in the specific components of child intelligence most affected.

The CU SRP study described in this paper included 272 childrent in grades 3-5 in 3 Maine public school districts. It examined associations between drinking water Arsenic and intelligence as measured by the WISC-IV test. The findings suggest that levels of Water Arsenic equal or greater than 5 mug/L, levels, which are below EPA national standards and occur frequently in some US regions, could pose a threat to child development.


Wasserman Gail A, Liu  Xinhua, LoIacono Nancy J, Kline Jennie, Factor-Litvak  Pam, van Geen  Alexander, Mey Jacob L, Levy  Diane, Abramson  Richard, Schwartz Amy, Graziano Joseph H. A cross-sectional study of well water arsenic and child IQ in Maine schoolchildren. Environmental Health 2014, 13:23 (1 April 2014). DOI: 10.1186/1476-069X-13-23

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Announcement type: CU SRP Publications

March 5 2014

Additional evidence that nutritional status may explain differences in susceptibility to arsenic toxicity

Caitlin Howe, Columbia SRP student with Project 3, is the lead author of the upcoming paper, "Folate and Cobalamin Modify Associations between S-adenosylmethionine and Methylated Arsenic Metabolites in Arsenic-Exposed Bangladeshi Adults" that will appear in the May 2014 publication of the Journal of Nutrition. Co-authors include Columbia SRP student alumnae and scientists as well as collaborators from Columbia University Arsenic Project in Bangladesh. The key findings provide additional evidence that nutritional status may explain some differences among individuals in arsenic metabolism and, thus, susceptibility to arsenic toxicity. The paper is currently available online. Please see the link below.

Suggested citation:

Howe CG, Niedzwiecki MM, Hall MN, Liu X, Ilievski V, Slavkovich V, Alam S, Siddique AB, Graziano JH,4 and Gamble MV. Folate and Cobalamin Modify Associations between S-adenosylmethionine and Methylated Arsenic Metabolites in Arsenic-Exposed Bangladeshi Adults J. Nutr. May 2014 jn.113.188789; first published online March 5, 2014. doi:10.3945/jn.113.188789.

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Announcement type: CU SRP Publications

March 3 2014 to March 4 2014

NIEHS Health Effects & Mitigation of Arsenic Workshop

The NIEHS Health Effects & Mitigation of Arsenic: Current Research Efforts and Future Directions workshop will highlight significant new and emerging research on lowdose exposure to arsenic in human health (cancer and non-cancer) such as environmental and endogenous bioavailability associated with arsenic toxicity, susceptibility to arsenic's health effects, advanced techniques to understand arsenic in health and environment, and current mitigation/remediation efforts of arsenic in the US and globally. Speakers and participants will represent a range of scientific expertise (e.g., epidemiology, human and animal toxicology, exposure, chemistry, microbiology, detection, and mitigation/remediation) and will consist of scientists from academia, federal/state/local agencies, and other researchers with an interest in this field of study. On Day 2, Dr. Maria Argos, Project 1 scientist with the Columbia SRP, will participate in a panel discussion on Contributions of Advanced Techniques to Understanding Arsenic in Health and Environment. Later that day, Drs. Megan Hall and Alexander van Geen will present papers as part of the session on Prevention and Remediation Strategies for Arsenic Exposure. They are then joined with Dr. Mary Gamble for a panel discussion on that topic. In addition, the workshop will include a poster session for sharing additional information on ongoing research.

The product from the workshop will be a report/white paper/publication consisting of summaries from each of the speakers discussing knowledge gaps in their particular area of research and their vision for the future of arsenic research. In addition, the report will provide the current state of the science in arsenic research and a summary of additional knowledge gaps that arose from the workshop. Importantly, using the recommendations provided by this workshop, the report will outline suggested topic areas on which to focus upon for future arsenic research efforts.

For more information on the workshop, please see the NIEHS workshop website below.


Sponsored by: NIEHS
Location: NIEHS Main Campus, Rall Building, Rodbell A, B, C
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Announcement type: General Announcements

October 15 2013 to October 17 2013

Superfund Research Program 2013 Annual Meeting

The SRP Annual Meeting this fall was hosted by LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana from Oct 15-17th. The scientific session focused on Arsenic and Metals.

Meeting Dates:

October 15-17, 2013, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tuesday, October 15: Research Translation and Community Engagement Cores (all day); R01 grantees (afternoon), and trainees (afternoon), opening reception

Wednesday, October 16 and Thursday, October 17: Plenary sessions, scientific meeting, administrator meeting

For More Information

Please see the conference website:  If you have any questions about the scientific sessions, please contact Dr. Tammy Dugas (TDugas [at]

Sponsored by: LSU SRP
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Announcement type: General Announcements

September 11 2013

Nature publication: Retardation of arsenic transport through a Pleistocene aquifer

Benjamin Bostick and Nguyen-Ngoc Mai at a high-arsenic well near village of Van Phuc (credit: Charles Harvey, MIT)

Nature published on September 11, 2013 a paper by CU SRP scientists Alexander van Geen, Benjamin Bostik, Kathleen Radloff, Zahid Aziz, Jacob L. Mey along with several of their collaborators 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).

Sponsored by: NIEHS Superfund Research Program and National Science Foundation
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Announcement type: CU SRP Publications

July 30 2013 to August 1 2013

EPA Community Involvement Training Conference

The EPA Office of Water, EPA Region 1, and the EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response are hosting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 13th Community Involvement Training Conference which will be held at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel Boston, Massachusetts July 30-August 1, 2013. The goal of this conference is both inform and train EPA staff, Agency stakeholders, and partners who plan and implement environmental community involvement and public communication, education and stewardship programs.

Registration for attending in person the EPA Community Involvement Training Conference is now open (see below for link) and will close on July 17th. Registration for online streaming sessions of the conference will be available later in June.

Location: Boston, Massachusetts
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Announcement type: General Announcements

July 29 2013 to July 31 2013

Environmental Health Disparities & Environmental Justice Meeting

On July 29-31, 2013 the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in partnership with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) , National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , Office of Minority Health (OMH) , Indian Health Service (IHS) will host a meeting focused on identifying priorities for action to address environmental health disparities (EHD) and environmental justice (EJ). This meeting will take place at the NIEHS Campus at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. The deadline for submitting poster abstracts is July 5th and for hotel reservations, July 7th. Online meeting registration is now closed. Please contact Whitney Freberg at 919-794-4700 or "whitney. freberg at" to secure a place on the waiting list for this meeting.

The meeting will bring together researchers, community residents, healthcare professionals, and federal partners committed to addressing EHD and EJ, in particular the grantees funded by NIEHS, EPA, NIMHD, CDC, OMH, and IHS. For the purposes of this meeting, EHD is defined as the unique contribution of the environment to health disparities.

The main goals of this meeting will be to:

  1. Acknowledge and build off past meetings that have identified historical EHD & EJ issues
  2. Prioritize research areas to ensure the most vulnerable populations' issues are addressed
  3. Identify emerging EHD or EJ issues (new exposures that have not been considered in the past that may lead to new or additional health disparities) and,
  4. Develop a set of priorities that enables participants to set multi-year plans to address the most critical EHD and EJ issues

The meeting will include presentations, small group discussions, demonstrations, and poster sessions that lead to the development of an action agenda. Presenters will highlight challenges, emerging opportunities, and strategies to build upon existing efforts that bring community groups together with researchers. Specifically, the meeting will highlight and promote best practices of current and past EHD and EJ projects, and identify emerging issues and new directions in research, communication, capacity building, training, and evaluation. An additional goal of the meeting will be to foster new partnerships at the local, state, regional, tribal, and national levels. The meeting is also intended to bring together new partners to the discussion of environmental health disparities. Such partners could include: anthropologists, sociologists, and economists as well as those with expertise in law, policy, analysis and evaluation.

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Announcement type: General Announcements


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