Preterm birth is a major health problem in the United States. In Puerto Rico, the preterm birth rate has increased to nearly 20% of live births and there is sufficient evidence that exposure to Superfund and related contaminants is a contributing factor. The theme of the PRoTECT Program is to use Puerto Rico as a testsite with dynamic exposure pathways through karstic aquifers to study Superfund and related contaminants and their contribution to preterm birth. The two goals of the Program are to: (1) Define the relationship between exposure to Superfund and related contaminants and preterm birth;and (2) Develop new technology for discovery, transport characterization, and green remediation of Superfund and related contaminants in karstic aquifers. To achieve these goals, the PRoTECT program will use a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach that will ultimately lead to a better understanding of causal relationships between the exposures and preterm births, and will allow development of innovative remediation strategies to reduce short-term contaminant exposures, and long-term public health impacts. The five objectives of the Program are to: (1) Increase the evidence that Superfund and related contaminants contribute to preterm birth, identify the causative chemicals, and learn how to remediate these chemicals in karstic aquifers by a green process;(2) Build a better understanding of the potential role, mechanisms and relevance of pollution induced oxidative stress in preterm birth, (3) Discover and understand risk factors and their interactions for preterm birth by developing and mining an integrated, centralized, indexed data repository for Puerto Rico that includes epidemiological, hydrogeophysical, environmental fate and transport, and environmental exposure data, (4) Determine the effect of episodic transport on patterns of exposure through highly mobile karstic aquifers and develop adaptable remedial actions, and (5) Improve and apply nontargeted chemical analysis including bioassay-directed chemical analysis to biological samples and environmental samples. The PROTECT Program will conduct targeted and nontargeted studies to evaluate the contribution of exposure to Superfund and related contaminants to preterm birth. The targeted studies focus on chlorinated solvents and phthalates because they are suspect and model contaminants and because they are found in many Superfund sites in the US and Puerto Rico. The cross-disciplinary approach will employ the data-rich centralized data repository and integrated modeling/analysis capabilities to better understand complex interrelationships between multiple risk factors.

Public Health Relevance

The Program will address the Healthy People 2010 objective to reduce preterm births to 7.6% from current preterm rates of 12.8% in the US and 19.7% in Puerto Rico in 2005. Program goals fit within Multi-Year Plans of the EPA's Office of Research and Development and also within the EPA's strategic plan for compliance and environmental stewardship that strives for green cleanup programs. The program will address many of the SBRP goals, including understanding the relationship between exposure and disease etiology, translating innovative remediation technologies, and improving the risk assessment decision-making process.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Hazardous Substances Basic Research Grants Program (NIEHS) (P42)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1-LWJ-M (O1))
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Henry, Heather F
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Northeastern University
Engineering (All Types)
Schools of Engineering
United States
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Ferguson, Kelly K; Colacino, Justin A; Lewis, Ryan C et al. (2017) Personal care product use among adults in NHANES: associations between urinary phthalate metabolites and phenols and use of mouthwash and sunscreen. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 27:326-332
Elkin, Elana R; O'Neill, Marie S (2017) Trends in Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Exposure and Preterm Birth: Use of Smoking Bans and Direct ETS Exposure Assessments in Study Designs. Chem Res Toxicol 30:1376-1383
Ferguson, Kelly K; McElrath, Thomas F; Pace, Gerry G et al. (2017) Urinary Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Metabolite Associations with Biomarkers of Inflammation, Angiogenesis, and Oxidative Stress in Pregnant Women. Environ Sci Technol 51:4652-4660
Park, Hae-Ryung; Harris, Sean M; Boldenow, Erica et al. (2017) Group B Streptococcus Activates Transcriptomic Pathways Related to Premature Birth in Human Extraplacental Membranes In Vitro. Biol Reprod :
Ferguson, Kelly K; Meeker, John D; Cantonwine, David E et al. (2017) Environmental phenol associations with ultrasound and delivery measures of fetal growth. Environ Int 112:243-250
Shao, Gang; Agar, Jeffrey; Giese, Roger W (2017) Cold-induced aqueous acetonitrile phase separation: A salt-free way to begin quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, safe. J Chromatogr A 1506:128-133
Wang, Poguang; Giese, Roger W (2017) Recommendations for quantitative analysis of small molecules by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 1486:35-41
Ferguson, Kelly K; Chen, Yin-Hsiu; VanderWeele, Tyler J et al. (2017) Mediation of the Relationship between Maternal Phthalate Exposure and Preterm Birth by Oxidative Stress with Repeated Measurements across Pregnancy. Environ Health Perspect 125:488-494
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Yuan, Ye; Meeker, John D; Ferguson, Kelly K (2017) Serum polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) concentrations in relation to biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004. Sci Total Environ 575:400-405

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