Archived Announcements

June 21 2013

EHP Publication: Chronic Arsenic Exposure and Blood Glutathione and Glutathione Disulfide Concentrations in Bangladeshi Adults

Exposure to arsenic (As) has been shown to deplete glutathione (GSH), the primary intracellular antioxidant, and induce oxidative stress in In vitro and rodent studies. Glutathione disulfide (GSSG) is produced after GSH donates an electron to reactive oxygen species.  The primary objective of this study was to test whether As exposure was associated with decreases in GSH and increases in GSSG, i.e., a more oxidized intracellular environment. Lead author Dr. Hall and her colleagues also investigated whether As exposure was associated with reductions in cysteine (Cys) and increases in cystine (CySS); Cys and CySS are the predominant thiol/disulfide redox couple found in human plasma.  The authors observed inverse associations of As exposure with GSH and Cyss, but no associations with GSSG and Cys and concluded that “The observed associations are consistent with the hypothesis that As may influence concentrations of GSH and other non-protein sulfhydryls through binding and irreversible loss in bile and/or possibly in urine.”

Hall MN, Niedzwiecki M, Liu X, Harper KN, Alam S, Slavkovich V, Ilievski V, Levy D, Siddique S, Parvez F, Mey JL, van Geen A, Graziano J, and Gamble MV. Chronic Arsenic Exposure and Blood Glutathione and Glutathione Disulfide Concentrations in Bangladeshi Adults. Environmental Health Perspectives Advance Publication: 21 June 2013.

Announcement type: CU SRP Publications

June 10 2013

Two Potential Perils in Cancer Studies Involving DNA Methylation Array Analysis

The June publication of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention features a paper by Kristin Harper, Bradilyn Peters, and Mary Gamble on “Batch Effects and pathway analysis: Two potential perils in cancer studies involving DNA methylation array analysis”. It includes some recent findings from their research under the Columbia Superfund Research Program’s Project 3, Impact of Nutrition on Arsenic-Induced Epigenetic Dysregulation.

DNA methylation microarrays have become an increasingly popular means of studying the role of epigenetics in cancer, although the methods used to analyze these arrays are still being developed and existing methods are not always widely disseminated among microarray users.

Harper, Peters, and Gamble investigated two problems likely to confront DNA methylation microarray users: (i) batch effects and (ii) the use of widely available pathway analysis software to analyze results. First, DNA taken from individuals exposed to low and high levels of drinking water arsenic were plated twice on Illumina's Infinium 450 K HumanMethylation Array, once in order of exposure and again following randomization. Second, they conducted simulations in which random CpG sites were drawn from the 450 K array and subjected to pathway analysis using Ingenuity's IPA software.

They concluded that the analyses illustrated the pitfalls of not properly controlling for chip-specific batch effects as well as using pathway analysis software created for gene expression arrays to analyze DNA methylation array data. The in silico pathway analysis experiment yielded spurious but significant findings due to over-representation of CpGs on the 450K array chip that were associated with genes involved in pathways linked to cancer, developmental disorders, cellular development, cell morphology, embryological development, and more.

Suggested citation

Harper KN, Peters BA, Gamble MV. Batch Effects and pathway analysis: Two potential perils in cancer studies involving DNA methylation array analysis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2013; 22(6); 1–9. Published OnlineFirst April 29, 2013; doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-0114.

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Announcement type: CU SRP Publications

May 10 2013

Arsenic, Methylation, and Cardiovascular Risk-- Online Publication in EHP

On May 10th Environmental Health Perspectives provided an advance publication of the paper, "A Prospective Study of Arsenic Exposure, Arsenic Methylation Capacity, and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Bangladesh" by Dr. Yu Chen, Associate Professor at NYU Langone Medical Center and her Columbia SRP colleagues. They carried out "a case-cohort study of 369 incident fatal and non-fatal cases of CVD, including 148 stroke cases and 211 cases of heart disease, and a subcohort of 1,109 subjects randomly selected from the 11,224 participants in the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study." Their overall conclusion is that exposure to arsenic in drinking water together with reduced arsenic methylation capacity is associated with increased heart disease risk.

Suggested citation:

Chen Y, Wu F, Liu M, Parvez F, Slavkovich V, Eunus M, Ahmed A, Segers S, Argos M, Islam T, Rakibuz-Zaman M, Hasan R, Sarwar G, Levy D, Graziano J, Ahsan H. A Prospective Study of Arsenic Exposure, Arsenic Methylation Capacity, and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Bangladesh. Environmental Health Perspectives (tba). doi:10.1289/ehp.1205797 Online publication: May 10, 2013.


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Announcement type: CU SRP Publications

April 19 2013

NYS DEC looking for Student Volunteers

Community-Based Bioremediation ProjectVolunteer scope of work, Spring/Summer 2013

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Division of Environmental Remediation, is interested in how we can help community groups to address environmental contamination in their neighborhoods through community-based bioremediation projects.  The term “bioremediation” is used here to describe any low-intensity, natural method to remove, stabilize, prevent exposure to, or stimulate breakdown of contaminants. 

To advance this effort, we are seeking a Volunteer to help 1) develop resources for interested groups; and 2) work with one or two community groups to plan, implement, and document results of a pilot project.

Potential tasks would include:

  • Create survey for community groups and other relevant stakeholders to gain understanding of interest in community-based bioremediation, and identify goals, feasibility, challenges, etc.
  • Develop webpage of FAQs for community-based bioremediation, with answers and resources, for DEC website.  FAQs should incorporate questions/challenges identified in survey.  Development would require research on a range of topics, including technical aspects of bioremediation methods, bioavailability of various contaminants, resources for soil sampling and analysis, and urban gardening concerns.
  • Volunteer will work with community group(s) to:
    •  Develop a plan for soil sampling that considers the previous use of the property, potential contaminants, budget, etc.
    • Review analytical results and compare to available guidance values
    • Research, analyze, and make recommendations on potential bioremediation strategies based on identified contamination, desired future use of the property, budget, and health/safety factors
    • Develop plan for implementing, maintaining, and monitoring effectiveness of selected bioremediation strategy
    • Throughout project, document process, lessons learned, challenges, etc.

Preferred Qualifications of Volunteer:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Background in environmental science, engineering or policy. Volunteer will ideally have some technical understanding of environmental assessment and remediation, although a technical degree is not required.
  • Website development a plus

Please note there is no compensation for this work. It is for 1-2 days per week, but with a flexible schedule. Volunteers would be working out of the DEC office in Long Island City, 47-40 21st Street. If you have any questions or would like to apply, please contact Dana Kaplan, <>, NYSDEC Environmental Engineer.



Announcement type: General Announcements

April 19 2013

GSA Northeastern Meeting

The 48th Annual Geological Society of America Northeastern section meeting took place on March 17-19, 2013 at the Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire (link)

The session on Naturally Occurring Contaminants in Groundwater Used for Water Supply in the Northeastern United States was organized by Yan Zheng, Queens College, CUNY and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisade, NY and Joe Ayotte, United States Geological Survey, Pembroke, NH. Yan Zheng chaired the session. Two papers from the Columbia SRP project were presented, and the session was attended by five current and former members of Columbia’s SRP team: Yan Zheng and Sara Flanagan from the Community Engagement Core, Stuart Braman from the Research Translation Core and Qiang Yang and Beth O’Shea reporting on work done on the former Project 5 – Mobilization of Natural Arsenic in Groundwater.

Qiang Yang began the session with his presentation on Hydrogeochemical Control of Arsenic, Uranium and Radon in Domestic Wells from Bedrock Aquifers in Central Maine.  The next four papers extended the theme with a look at arsenic occurrence in metamorphosed bedrock units in Maine by Beth O’Shea, in gold-bearing quartz veins in western Ireland by Martin Gilligan, in the Newark and Gettysburg basins in Pennsylvania by Johanna M.T.Blake and in pyrite in Taconic slates in southwestern Vermont  by Helen Mango.

A paper on water quality in Unity Maine wells by Lois K. Ongley served as the transition to a presentation on Arsenic in Nova Scotia’s Private Drinking Water Wells: Reducing Risk Exposure through Community-based Knowledge-To-Action Interventions by Heather Chappells. The final presentation, Mitigating Arsenic Exposure from Maine’s Private Drinking Water Wells By Targeting Behavioral Factors Through Community Engagement by Sara Flanagan focused on the Columbia Community Engagement Core survey of households in Maine with the goal of understanding psychological conditions necessary for adopting testing and treatment behaviors.  The improved understanding will then guide the design of community level interventions.  Because the Columbia CEC and Nova Scotia projects are addressing the same issues RTC is working with in New Jersey, the meeting provided a great opportunity to exchange ideas and lay the groundwork for possible future collaboration.

An informal evening gathering hosted by Yan Zheng provided an opportunity for discussions with the USGS scientist who were prevented from participating in the morning session due to the sequestration. In addition to session presenters, Columbia CEC collaborators Dr. Robert Marvinney and Mr. R. Johnston from Maine Geological Survey joined the evening conversation. A special issue is planned for Science of the Total Environment to highlight the risks arsenic poses to communities in Northeastern United States and Canada.

Announcement type: General Announcements

March 26 2013

Goldschmidt 2013 Conference

You are cordially invited to submit abstracts for the Goldschmidt conference August 25-30, 2013 in Florence, Italy.

Columbia University Superfund Research Program scientists are organizing two sessions for the Goldschmidt 2013:
Dr. Yan Zheng is the co-organizer of the Hydrogeochemistry session "Sustainable Groundwater Development and the Millennium Development Goals: What Can Hydrogeochemists do?".

Dr. Alexander van Geen is co-hosting the Anthropogenic Impacts on Pollutant Dynamics session, "Impacts of Soil, Air, and Water Geochemistry on Human Health".  For more information on both sessions please see below or go to conference web site section on Themes (

If you are interested in submitting abstracts for these or other sessions, please go to the conference website's pages on Abstracts ( Note that the abstract submission deadline is April 12th.

If you have any questions regarding these two sessions, please contact Dr. Zheng and Dr. van Geen directly.

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Announcement type: General Announcements

March 1 2013

Broad Scope of Health Effects from Chronic Arsenic Exposure: Update on a Worldwide Public Health Problem

CU SRP Director Joseph Graziano and PI Habibul Ahsan collaborated with NIEHS staff, Marisa Naujokas, Beth Anderson, Claudia Thompson, and SRP Director Bill Suk along with UA SRP scientist H. Vasken Aposhian to synthesize the large body of current research pertaining to arsenic exposure and health outcomes worldwide. Following their review, the authors conclude that the data indicate “arsenic-related pathologies exist in broader contexts than previously perceived”. Pregnant women and children are particularly susceptible, leading to potentially life-long developmental impacts from arsenic exposure: “Most remarkably, early-life exposure may be related to increased risks for several types of cancer and other diseases during adulthood.” The authors such as a top priority foods and drinking water for arsenic, including individual private wells, must be tested in order to reduce exposure and improve health for those populations most at risk.

Suggested Citation:

Naujokas MF, B Anderson, H Ahsan,, HV Aposhian, JH Graziano, C Thompson, and WA Suk. (2013) The Broad Scope of Health Effects from Chronic Arsenic Exposure: Update on a Worldwide Public Health Problem. Environ Health Perspect 121:295–302 (2013). [Online 3 January 2013]

PDF icon Full paper1.06 MB
Announcement type: CU SRP Publications

February 15 2013

Internship Opportunities for Students at NCEH and ATSDR

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) offer paid 10-week summer internship programs for students who are passionate about the environment, interested in human health, and curious about how they are linked. During the course of the internship, students are introduced to environmental health at the federal level through collaborative projects, experiential learning opportunities, environmental health presentations, journal clubs, field trips, brown bag lunches, and mentoring relationships at NCEH/ATSDR.  Interns will be based at NCEH/ATSDR’s Chamblee, GA Campus.

For more information, please visit the programs web site:

Summer Program in Environmental Health (

-Open to students who are enrolled fulltime in EHAC-accredited Environmental Health programs as a rising junior, senior, or graduate student.

-Application deadline: February 15th, 2013


Graduate Environmental Health program (

-Open to graduate students who are currently enrolled in a degree granting program. Students graduating in Spring 2013 are eligible for this opportunity.

 -Application deadline: February 27th, 2013


Sponsored by: CDC NCEH/ATSDR
Announcement type: General Announcements

January 31 2013 to February 28 2013

KC Donnelly Externship Supplement Awards

This is an exciting opportunity to provide interdisciplinary experiences for SRP graduate students and post-docs either directly supported or conducting research supported by an SRP P42 or R01 grant.In honor of KC Donnelly, this supplemental award provides current SRP-funded graduate students and post-doctoral researchers with funding to pursue translational/transdisciplinary opportunities and experiences within other SRP-funded centers, government laboratories (EPA, ATSDR, NIEHS), or other agencies (state, local,Tribal).For more information, please review the KC Donnelly Externship Guidelines.

Sponsored by: NIEHS Superfund Research Program
Announcement type: General Announcements

November 1 2012

Study suggests large investment in Bangladesh water supply infrastructure would be justified

Two of Columbia's SRP Community Engagement Core scientists Sara Flanagan and Yan Zheng along with their colleague Richard Johnston published a paper in the November 2012 WHO Bulletin examining the health and economic impacts and implications for the mitigation of arsenic in tube well water in Bangladesh. A recent survey in Bangladesh estimates that 35 to 77 million people have been chronically exposed to arsenic in their drinking water. The health implications of chronic arsenic exposure in such a large population are substantial. Interventions in areas with the highest proportion of unsafe wells are likely to reach the population exposed to the highest arsenic concentrations and therefore at highest risk of experiencing adverse health outcomes. This paper provides evidence that large investments in the water supply infrastructure to reduce levels of arsenic in drinking water is economically justified when the health and economic burdens of unabated arsenic exposure are considered.


Flanagan, S.V., R.B. Johnston,and Y. Zheng. 2012. Arsenic in tube well water in Bangladesh: health and economic impacts and implications for arsenic mitigation.Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2012;90:839-846. doi: 10.2471/BLT.11.101253

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Announcement type: CU SRP Publications


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