Predict and measure the formation of hazardous PAH breakdown products directly in contaminated soils and sediments at Superfund sites using advanced techniques.

  • Predict and measure PAH breakdown products formed from oxidation of parent PAHs.
  • Measure PAH breakdown products at Superfund sites pre- and post-remediation.
  • Determine which PAH remediation technologies minimize the formation of hazardous PAH breakdown products
  • and assess the potential risk.

Our results to date indicate that previously unidentified PAH breakdown products form in the environment and during remediation of Superfund sites.  As the research continues, we will be able to assess which remediation technologies minimize their formation and if they pose a hazard to human health.


Staci Simonich

Graduate students: 

Major Accomplishments
  • Published a manuscript in Environmental Science and Technology in January 2014 describing the prediction, identification and mutagenicity of novel, high molecular weight nitro-PAHs which have not been previously identified. This publication received a significant amount of press coverage and was listed in the top 20 science news stories on Google.
    Jariyasopit N, McIntosh M, Zimmermann K, Arey J, Atkinson R, Cheong PH, Carter RG, Yu TW, Dashwood RH, Massey Simonich SLNovel Nitro-PAH Formation from Heterogeneous Reactions of PAHs with NO2, NO3/N2O5, and OH Radicals: Prediction, Laboratory Studies, and Mutagenicity. Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Dec 19. [Epub ahead of print] Press Release
  • A 2013 K.C. Donnelly externship award to OSU SRP trainee, Ms. Leah Chibwe, allowed Leah and Project 5 to begin collaboration with Dr. Michael Aitken of the UNC-Chapel Hill SRP to study the formation of PAH breakdown products, and associated changes in toxicity, of PAH contaminated soils following aerobic bioremediation.
  • Measured PAHs in Beijing air before, during, and after the Olympics to assess the effectiveness of control measures. Contributed to changes in environmental regulations by Chinese government.
  • Performed a risk analysis for lung cancer with RTC and published it in EHP and EHP-China.
  • Discovered that oxy-PAHs form during remediation and that they can be highly toxic.
  • Measured (in collaboration with Core E, CTUIR, and RTC) urinary levels of PAHs in Tribal members following consumption of smoked salmon.