The URI-led STEEP (Sources, Transport, Exposure and Effects of PFASs) proposes to aid the Superfund Research Program (SRP) in addressing the emerging and expanding problem of poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) contamination. PFASs are industrial compounds that have been manufactured since the 1950s for use in myriad products due to their unique oil and water repellent properties. The environmental dissemination and the human health effects have only begun to be characterized over the previous decade. Thus, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limits for PFASs contamination of drinking water remain provisional since first published in 2009. Also, in the recently released 2015 draft ToxProfile, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) stressed a number of uncertainties as to PFASs human health impacts and therefore disregarded recent reports on adverse human health effects at PFASs exposures commonly occurring in the U.S. Thus, the need for improved risk characterization is urgent. The Administrative Core (AC) is the central hub of STEEP, integrated with the rest of center through the Director?s role in active STEEP Project research and communication, and runs the day-to-day management of Core activities. Its main role is to ensure STEEP runs well and produces integrated science, training, communication, and engagement of benefit to SRP and stakeholders. STEEP will be led by Rainer Lohmann, Ph.D., Center Director (University of Rhode Island, URI) and Philippe Grandjean, M.D., D.M.Sc, Center Co- Director (Harvard University, HU), who will provide center integration, vision, and effective leadership. They will be supported by Frank Baker (URI), Center Manager, who will oversee the day-to-day operation and workings of the Center. The AC will be guided by an Internal Advisory Committee (IAC) on a bimonthly basis, and by an External Advisory Committee (EAC) annually as part of a full-day retreat. URI is committed to the success of the URI STEEP Center and will fund a faculty appointment in a related emerging contaminants field to further strengthen Center expertise, support the Center Manager, fund 2 additional minority graduate student assistantships and funds to support additional graduate student activities. URI STEEP will organize the Fall 2020 URI Honors Colloquium focusing on emerging contaminants with access for the academic community and the public. The AC will fulfill its commitment to ensure the success of the URI-led STEEP through the following Specific Aims:
Specific Aim 1 : Create a STEEP organization that responds in a timely fashion to opportunities, challenges, and evaluations.
Specific Aim 2 : Ensure successful integration of Research Projects and Cores through regular meetings of Project and Core leaders coupled with evaluations from IAC and EAC.
Specific Aim 3 : Provide relevant operational insights and tools for stakeholders and communities.

Public Health Relevance

Poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) are high-priority pollutants from widespread contaminated sites, but their adverse health effects are not fully known, and current guidelines for pollution abatement are provisional and preliminary only. The proposed STEEP Center will address the occurrence and dissemination of PFASs as drinking water contaminants, their likely contribution to exposure-associated dysfunctions in children exposed prenatally and postnatally, as documented in a prospective epidemiology study and an animal model. STEEP will also investigate potential engineering solutions that can be implemented in affected communities, thereby addressing key challenges in current approaches to contaminated site management.

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)
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University of Rhode Island
United States
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