The objective of Project 4 is to determine the principal fate and transport processes for the release, mobility, persistence, and possible pathways of mixtures of organic contaminants toward potential exposures and/or remediation zones in karst groundwater systems. The Project will use Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) as a model semipolar organic and trichloroethylene (TCE) as a model nonpolar organic. The project will determine the major mechanisms influencing the fate and transport of DEHP and TCE in karst groundwater characterized by variable conduit and/or diffusion dominated flow;assess the effect of trapped and mobile non-aqueous TCE on the fate and transport of dissolved DEHP;assess potential contamination pathways and exposure through the karstic groundwater system in northern Puerto Rico;and explore the mechanisms for potential release and leaching of DEHP contaminants from unlined landfills into karst groundwater systems. Specific alms will be attained through defined experimental activities, which Involve data evaluation and integration at the hydrogeophysical system level and physical modeling of potential contaminant sources and fate and transport processes at the laboratory-scale level.

Public Health Relevance

The research will Improve the ability for assessing the migration of contaminants in karstic ground-water systems, and, ultimately, predict and minimize the potential for exposure of these pollutants to humans and ecosystems. With the gained knowledge, accurate methods can be developed to predict potential human exposure and effective strategies can be established to protect public health and the environment. In the United States, 40% of groundwater used for drinking comes from karst aquifers.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Hazardous Substances Basic Research Grants Program (NIEHS) (P42)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1-LWJ-M)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Northeastern University
United States
Zip Code
Watkins, Deborah J; Ferguson, Kelly K; Anzalota Del Toro, Liza V et al. (2015) Associations between urinary phenol and paraben concentrations and markers of oxidative stress and inflammation among pregnant women in Puerto Rico. Int J Hyg Environ Health 218:212-9
Yu, Xue; Ghasemizadeh, Reza; Padilla, Ingrid et al. (2015) Spatiotemporal changes of CVOC concentrations in karst aquifers: analysis of three decades of data from Puerto Rico. Sci Total Environ 511:10-Jan
Ferguson, Kelly K; McElrath, Thomas F; Chen, Yin-Hsiu et al. (2015) Repeated measures of urinary oxidative stress biomarkers during pregnancy and preterm birth. Am J Obstet Gynecol 212:208.e1-8
Boldenow, Erica; Hogan, Kelly A; Chames, Mark C et al. (2015) Role of cytokine signaling in group B Streptococcus-stimulated expression of human beta defensin-2 in human extraplacental membranes. Am J Reprod Immunol 73:263-72
Rajic, Ljiljana; Fallahpour, Noushin; Yuan, Songhu et al. (2014) Electrochemical transformation of trichloroethylene in aqueous solution by electrode polarity reversal. Water Res 67:267-75
Ferguson, Kelly K; Cantonwine, David E; Rivera-González, Luis O et al. (2014) Urinary phthalate metabolite associations with biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress across pregnancy in Puerto Rico. Environ Sci Technol 48:7018-25
Ferguson, Kelly K; McElrath, Thomas F; Ko, Yi-An et al. (2014) Variability in urinary phthalate metabolite levels across pregnancy and sensitive windows of exposure for the risk of preterm birth. Environ Int 70:118-24
Korir, Michelle L; Knupp, David; LeMerise, Kathryn et al. (2014) Association and virulence gene expression vary among serotype III group B streptococcus isolates following exposure to decidual and lung epithelial cells. Infect Immun 82:4587-95
Yao, Yuanyuan; Wang, Poguang; Giese, Roger (2014) Evaporative derivatization of phenols with 2-sulfobenzoic anhydride for detection by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 28:653-61
Fortenberry, Gamola Z; Meeker, John D; Sánchez, Brisa N et al. (2014) Paraoxonase I polymorphisms and attention/hyperactivity in school-age children from Mexico City, Mexico. Environ Res 132:342-9

Showing the most recent 10 out of 56 publications