Category Archives: News on Environmental Health

PROTECT Study finds increased levels of flame retardant and plasticizing chemicals associated with the use of personal care products among pregnant women in Puerto Rico.

In a recent Study published in Environmental Research Journal, PROTECT researchers detected metabolites of several organophosphate esters (OPE), a class of chemicals used in consumer products as flame retardants and plasticizers, in urine samples collected from women during pregnancy in Puerto Rico. This is concerning since some OPEs have been associated with adverse reproductive health […]

Also posted in Media Coverage of PROTECT, News on Premature Birth, Project 1 (Targeted Epidemiology), PROTECT Research, PROTECT Team | Comments closed

PROTECT Study evaluates how CVOC chemicals are distributed and travel through the Karst System of Northern Puerto Rico

Chlorinated Volatile Organic Compounds (CVOCs) are a type of chlorinated solvent that are commonly used in industrial, business, and home settings. Some examples of common products which contain CVOCs include industrial solvents, metal surface degreasers, paint removers, and textile cleansing agents.. They are highly volatile, slightly soluble in water, and resistant to degradation, meaning they […]

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Low-cost activated carbon promises scalable water disinfection

Water security has always been high on the list of human sustainable development goals, because we rely on clean water for drinking, washing, and recreational purposes. However, widespread contamination continues to severely threaten the security of water supplies. Among these contaminants, water pathogens are of particularly great concern as they have been directly linked to […]

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PROTECT’s Phil Brown successfully hosts 2nd National Conference on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances at Northeastern University

From June 10-12th, 2019, over 250 community activists, government officials, state legislators, scientists, journalists, lawyers, academics, and students all convened on the Northeastern University campus in Boston for the 2nd National Conference on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances. The purpose of the conference was to foster alliances across sectors (government, academics, NGOs, and community groups) to […]

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PROTECT Researchers evaluate Hurricane Maria’s Impact and suggest a ‘Visionary Rebuilding’ plan for Government Institutions

The impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on the island is massive, with over a thousand lives lost and over $90 billion dollars in damage, part of which decimated the electric grid and 80% of the agricultural sector. Many Puerto Ricans were left homeless and a total of 215,000 people left the island for the […]

Also posted in Enrichment Core F (Community Engagement), Media Coverage of PROTECT, PROTECT Research, PROTECT Team | Comments closed

PROTECT and University of Kentucky SRC Collaborative Study on Water Remediation

At the 2016 Annual Superfund Research Program Meeting, researchers from PROTECT and the University of Kentucky SRC discovered their respective research on water remediation overlapped in interesting and potentially significant ways. PROTECT’s Project 5 developed a technology that uses both palladium powder catalyst and electrolysis to remove contaminants from groundwater through a process called electro-Fenton. […]

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PROTECT Study shows widespread presence of phthalates from multiple sources in karst aquifers in Puerto Rico

Phthalates are widely used in many consumer products; DEHP is the most frequently used plasticizer in the market. Their extensive use results in spatially-widespread sources that are difficult to identify. Their presence in groundwater is related to land use patterns and is influenced by hydrogeologic characteristics. Phthalate contamination is important to evaluate in eogenetic karst […]

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Welton granted NIEHS Award to Study Impacts of Traumatic Experiences & Prolonged Recovery due to Hurricane Maria on Preterm Birth Outcomes

Michael Welton is Post-Doctoral Research Fellow & Teaching Associate in the College of Public Health at University of Georgia. Welton works with the Human Subjects & Sampling Core within PROTECT as well as the Human Subjects Core in CRECE, and has been working on the NIH funded ZIP Study (Zika in Infants and Pregnancy) for […]

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One Year Later, PROTECT and CRECE Researchers Investigate the Health Impacts of Hurricane Maria

One year ago, on September 20th, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane and proceeded cross the island from the southeast to the northwest, leaving devastation in its wake. In the weeks and months that followed, PROTECT and CRECE team members in Puerto Rico reached out to provide essential […]

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Cave Sediments & Hurricanes: Digging into the Past

Puerto Rico is finally starting to recover from Hurricane Maria, but the huge storm may continue to influence the cave and karst systems for generations. A group of PROTECT researchers met in Puerto Rico in July to collect sediment samples from a cave and spring to start addressing this question. Caves can trap and store […]

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PROTECT Team Members Attend the 15th “Sinkholes Meeting”

Current and past members of PROTECT attended the 15th “Sinkholes Meeting” (15th Multidisciplinary Conference on Sinkholes and the Engineering and Environmental Impacts of Karst) in Shephardstown, WV, during April 2018. The Sinkholes Meeting is one of the oldest interdisciplinary conferences focused on karst and the associated issues. The conference proceedings includes blind, peer-reviewed manuscripts for publication. […]

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National Pre-Term Birth Rates Rising

In late June of 2016, the National Center for Health Statistics released provisional birth data showing that U.S. preterm birth rates rose 2 percent in 2016, from 9.63 to 9.84 percent of all pregnancies. This is the second year in a row that national preterm birth rates have increased—a worrying trend, given that preterm birth […]

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March of Dimes 2016 Report Card Shows Preterm Birth Increasing Nationally while Decreasing in Puerto Rico

On November 1st, the March of Dimes kicked off Prematurity Awareness Month by releasing their eighth annual Premature Birth Report Card  for the US and Puerto Rico. The report brought promising news for Puerto Rico, awarding the region a grade improvement for the first time in the report card’s history. Puerto Rico’s preterm birth rate […]

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PROTECT and CRECE to Take Part in National Study on Children’s Health

PROTECT and CRECE will be taking part in a new national study led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which aims to investigate the ways in which early exposure to a range of environmental factors influence the short- and long-term health of children. The study is part of the NIH’s new Environmental Influences on […]

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Puerto Rico Is Challenged by the Zika Epidemic

In late March of this year, PROTECT posted an article describing some of the steps that were being taken in Puerto Rico to prepare for the inevitable spread of the Zika virus on the island. Five months later, Zika transmission in Puerto Rico is no longer an emerging threat, but an ongoing reality. The island is […]

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PROTECT and CRECE to Study Zika in Pregnancy

On Friday, July 15th, PROTECT and CRECE received funding from the NIEHS to study the Zika virus in Puerto Rico. This funding is part of the Zika Infants and Pregnancy (ZIP) study, which aims to enroll 10,000 women from 15 different countries in a study to assess the outcomes of a Zika infection during pregnancy. […]

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Dr. José Cordero and March of Dimes Push for Fortified Corn Masa Flour

On April 14th, the Food and Drug Administration approved the addition of folic acid—a B vitamin known to prevent birth defects—to corn masa flour. The announcement comes after four years of efforts by the March of Dimes and PROTECT’s Co-Director Dr. José Cordero. For years, folic acid has been a mainstay of grain products such […]

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EPA Proposes New Superfund Site in Dorado, Puerto Rico

On April 6th, 2016, the US EPA proposed the addition of the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Site to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). Recent sampling at this site has found contamination from tetrachloroethylene (also called perchloroethylene, or PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), which has spread to drinking water wells that serve approximately 67,000 people in the […]

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MassDEP to Revisit 200 TCE Sites to Assess Risk of Birth Defects

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will be returning to 200 previously-closed trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination sites to determine if TCE poses an imminent hazard in those locations. The selected sites were closed for further cleanup prior to the EPA’s 2011 finding that short-term maternal exposure to TCE is associated with a higher risk of cardiac […]

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Landmark Conference on Social Science-Environmental Health Collaborations

On May 21-22, 2015, the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI), in partnership with the Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) and Silent Spring Institute hosted the first ever Social Science-Environmental Health Interdisciplinary Collaborations Conference at Northeastern University. This two-day conference brought together approximately 100 scholars, government agency professionals, community organizers, and […]

Also posted in Enrichment Core B (Research Translation), Enrichment Core F (Community Engagement), Events, PROTECT Events and Presentations | Tagged | Comments closed

PROTECT RTC-CEC Leader Phil Brown Receives Prestigious ASA Practice and Outreach Award

PROTECT is proud to announce that Dr. Phil Brown, sociologist and environmental justice advocate and PROTECT Community Engagement and Research Translation Core leader, will be the 2015 recipient of the American Sociological Association’s Environment and Technology Section’s Practice and Outreach Award. Over the past 25 years, Dr. Brown has worked with community groups, environmental justice […]

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USGS briefs congress about groundwater vulnerability to contamination

Groundwater is a valuable source of drinking water for approximately 130 million people in United States.  However, natural and human activities have been resulting in high concentrations of certain chemicals in groundwater that can affect human health. The United States Geological Survey or USGS released new findings on groundwater contamination at the Congressional Briefing “Our Nation’s Groundwater […]

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EPA Reaches Agreement with CEMEX to Protect Water Quality in Puerto Rico

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that it reached an agreement with Cemex Concretos, Inc. and Cemex de Puerto Rico, Inc. (CEMEX) to settle the companies’ violations of requirements to control stormwater discharges under the Clean Water Act. As part of the settlement announced in May 2014, the companies will provide more than 400 […]

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Air Pollution linked to High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

A recent study has linked air pollution to high blood pressure in pregnant women.  High blood pressure is one cause of premature birth.  While the work is not yet conclusive, it points to further indications of the impact of environmental health on pregnancy.  Learn more at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/11/us-air-pollution-idUSBRE99A0J020131011

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Consumer Products Giant P&G to Eliminate Phthalates from Product Line

Proctor & Gamble recently announced that it will stop using phthalates in its personal care products (PCPs) by the end of 2014. Phthalates, used to make plastics more flexible and keep scents in perfumes and lotions from evaporating, are one of the chemicals of concern that PROTECT studies for possible linkage to preterm birth.  Our […]

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PROTECT Research Highlighted on Puerto Rican TV News

PROTECT Core C researcher Braulio Jimenez was interviewed in a recent news story on the rate of preterm birth in Puerto Rico.  The story, presented by WAPA-TV, discussed PROTECT’s investigations into the role of environmental contamination and preterm birth. The video (in Spanish) is available here.

Also posted in Media Coverage of PROTECT, News on Premature Birth, Research Core C (Human Subjects & Sampling) | Comments closed

UN, WHO Panel Report Calls Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals ‘Global Threat’

An international team of experts reported on February 19 that evidence linking hormone-mimicking chemicals to human health problems has grown stronger over the past decade, becoming a “global threat” that should be addressed. The report is a joint effort by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme to give policymakers the latest […]

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March of Dimes releases Global Action Report on Preterm Birth

The March of Dimes has released its most recent report on preterm birth, entitled Born Too Soon.  Read the full report here; more information including maps and posters, is here.  From the March of Dimes, a description of the report: Born Too Soon provides the first-ever comparable country-level estimates for preterm birth in 184 countries. […]

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2011 Changes to National Priority List sites in Puerto Rico

2011 brought several changes to the National Priority List of sites in Puerto Rico Removed: Barceloneta Landfill Added: Cabo Rojo Ground Water Contamination Added: Hormigas Ground Water Plume Currently there are 15 active NPL sites in Puerto Rico, 1 proposed, and 6 removed; take a look at all the NPL sites in Puerto Rico here […]

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Meeker quoted on CNN

Project 1 Leader John Meeker (U. of Michigan) was recently quoted in a CNN article on the effect of BPA on the masculinity of male mice.  The study determined that female mice found BPA-exposed male mice to be less attractive, even though their adult hormone levels were no different than male mice who were not exposed. […]

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PROTECT researchers, work profiled in Puerto Rico’s largest newspaper

PROTECT Core C Researchers Dr. Jose Cordero and Dr. Hernando Mattei were profiled in an article published in the May 6, 2011 edition of El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico’s largest newspaper. The article, entitled “Ojo a peligrosa anticipación” (“Looking at dangerous prematurity”),  focuses on the issue of preterm birth in Puerto Rico and the goals […]

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Strategic Planning at NIEHS: Your Input Requested!

The “Dear Colleague” message below is from Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.  Please take a moment to read through and visit the links she mentions. Dear Colleague, The NIEHS has just begun the process of updating our Strategic Plan. As a first step in this process, we have launched […]

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Dorothy Vesper and student highlighted in WVU Magazine

PROTECT Researcher Dorothy Vesper (Projects 4 and 5) was highlighted in a recent article in the WVU College of Arts and Sciences Magazine.  The magazine cover features John Tudek, Dorothy’s student working on the PROTECT project.  Click here to download a PDF of the article or here to look at the entire publication.

Also posted in Media Coverage of PROTECT, Project 4 (Fate & Transport), Project 5 (Green Remediation), PROTECT Team | Comments closed

PROTECT featured in Engineering@Northeastern

Northeastern University’s Engineering@Northeastern magazine (a publication of the NU College of Engineering) highlighted PROTECT research in the 2010 issue.  See page 4 of the magazine, available here, for the story.

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EPA Proposes to Add Two Puerto Rico Sites to the Superfund List

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to add both the Cabo Rojo Ground Water Contamination Site in the municipality of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico and the Hormigas Ground Water Plume Site in the municipality of Caguas to its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites. Sampling at the sites […]

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John Meeker featured in several recent articles

UMich Assistant Professor John Meeker‘s (leader, Project 1) work has been featured in several recent news articles. http://www.aolhealth.com/2010/08/04/exposure-to-plastic-chemical-may-harm-male-fertility/ http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2010/08/bisphenol_a_and_sperm_damage.html http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/88/i24/html/8824news4.html Dr. Meeker was also featured in another interesting article on plastics from last year: http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/dangers-of-plastic

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EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Fellowship Opening

The National Center for Environmental Assessment, part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development, is advertising a training opportunity (fellowship not to exceed 3 years) that may be of interest to post-docs, research fellows, PhD and masters students. The position will be located in Arlington, VA in the US EPA Integrated […]

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PROTECT profiled by Associated Press

Mark Melia of the Associated Press looks carefully at the background problem – the high rate of preterm birth in Puerto Rico – and what PROTECT will be studying to combat this issue…read full article.

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Chemicals May Play a Role in Pre-Term Births

The Association of Schools of Public Health features research findings of PROTECT investigators: (ASPH Friday Letter – July 10, 2009) – A University of Michigan School of Public Health study of expectant mothers suggests that a group of common environmental contaminants called phthalates, which are present in many industrial and consumer products including everyday personal […]

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Phthalates May Play a Role in Pre-Term Births

July 7, 2009

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