Research Projects

Our Center is multi-investigator, multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional. In partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL), and other stakeholders and collaborators, we are developing new technologies to assess polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found at many of the nation's Superfund sites and assess the risk they pose for human health.

We are pursuing a number of innovative and high impact research goals including:

  1. The first ever study of how humans take-up and excrete carcinogenic PAHs at environmental levels of exposure
  2. Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models for risk assessment of PAH mixtures
  3. Determination of developmental toxicities of PAH mixtures and PAHs formed in the environment using a zebrafish model
  4. Passive sampling devices to assess bioavailable PAHs at Superfund sites and the effectiveness of remediation strategies
  5. New analytical approaches to assessing chemical changes in PAHs in solids and sediments at Superfund sites over time.


Project 1 PAHs in Humans at Environmental Levels: Pharmacokinetics, Metabolism and Susceptible Individuals
David Williams, Project Leader
PAHs are environmental contaminants prevalent at Superfund Sites and represent 3 top 10 most hazardous substances (as listed in teh ATSDR Priority List of Hazardous Substances). A major obstacle for regulator agencies is lack of human data. We will characterize uptake/elimination of Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) in humans at environmental levels and identify susceptible individuals. This project provides critical data for health risk from environmental exposure to PAHs.

Project 2 – Cross-Species and Life Stage Comparisons of PAH Dosimetry
Richard Corley, Project Leader

This project will expand our collaborations to develop the next generation of PBPK models capable of predicting target tissue doses of metabolites important for PAH toxicity at potentially susceptible stages of life.

Project 3 – Systems Approach to Define Toxicity of Complex PAH Mixtures
Robert Tanguay, Project Leader

This project will define the mechanisms of PAH toxicity via the zebrafish assay.

Environmental Science

Project 4 Bridging Superfund Site Based Bioavailable Extracts with Biology
Kim Anderson, Project Leader
The project will further develop, biologically validate, employ, and model biological response indicator devices for gauging environmental stressors (BRIDGES).

Project 5 Formation of Hazardous PAH Breakdown Products in Complex Environmental Mixtures at Superfund Sites
Staci Simonich, Project Leader

The project will predict and measure the formation of hazardous PAH breakdown products directly in contaminated soils and sediments at Superfund sites.