PROTECT Researcher Publishes Study Assessing Toxicity Risk of WV Chemical Spill

Graphical AbstractThe 2014 Freedom Industrial chemical spill affected the drinking water supply of 300,000 people in Charleston, West Virginia metropolitan area.  In the wake of the spill, one of the most pressing concerns was understanding the impact of the chemical spill, as the main contaminant associated with the spill – 4-methyl-1-cyclohexanemethanol (4-MCHM) – has little to no toxicological information available.

A new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology by Prof. April Gu (Associate Professor at Northeastern and PROTECT Project 5 investigator) and co-funded by the SRP Program, has changed that.  The study describes how the toxicity of 4-MCHM and its metabolites were assessed by Gu’s team using a newly developed quantitative toxicogenomics approach. This approach, already in use in PROTECT Project 5, employs proteomics analysis in yeast cells and transcriptional analysis in human cells.

The study found that 4-MCHM is moderately toxic while its metabolites (the byproducts of the chemical once it has been processed as part of metabolism) are likely more toxic for both yeast and human cells. Within human cells, a primary finding is that 4-MCHM induced DNA damage-related biomarkers and therefore warrants further genotoxicity and chronic carcinogenesis evaluations.