air pollution and health

This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrickresearch_recap_GI_stPatricks

St. Patrick’s Day not enough green for you? Then check out the latest in environmental science from EPA!

High-Throughput Research on Flame Retardants in Zebrafish
EPA researcher Dr. Pamela Noyes recently won the Best Postdoctoral Publication at the 2016 Society of Toxicology Conference for her paper titled, “Advanced morphological – behavioral test platform reveals neurodevelopmental defects in embryonic zebrafish exposed to comprehensive suite of halogenated and organophosphate flame retardants. Dr. Noyes’ study shows that exposure to certain flame retardants is potentially associated with various neurological changes in zebrafish. Read more about her research in the blog One Fish, Two Fish, Test Fish, Control Fish.

Olive Oil and Fish Oil: Possible Protectors against Air Pollution
Ever wondered what’s so healthy about taking fish oil tablets? EPA scientist Dr. Samantha J. Snow is investigating one of the potential benefits. Her recent research looks at how these oils in the diet might change the body’s reaction to exposure to ozone, a common outdoor air pollutant. Read more about her research in the blog Olive Oil and Fish Oil: Possible Protectors against Air Pollution.

Interviews with EPA’s Thomas Burke
EPA Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development, Dr. Thomas Burke, was recently interviewed for the American Thoracic Society’s Research News Quarterly. Dr. Burke also talked to Bloomberg BNA about the role he envisions for public health in environmental decision-making.

Upcoming Events
Interested in what’s happening at EPA this month? Check out the Events to watch for in March blog to learn about a few public meetings and webinars you can attend! You can also read about an upcoming webinar highlighting a research funding opportunity in the blog Integrating Human Health and Well-Being with Ecosystem Services.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

OnAir@AAAR: Ironing out Trace Metal Measurements

Michelle Oakes has developed a new instrument to more accurately measure a dangerous air pollutant: Iron (II).
Oakes, an EPA STAR grantee and scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presented the new instrument Monday at the 2010 AAAR conference on air pollution and health.

blog_ironII_michelle oakes

Iron (II) is commonly emitted by sources like biomass burning and coal-fired power plants and is associated with the production of harmful reactive oxygen species in the body. Oakes’ device, called a Particle-to-Liquid Sampler, measures the dangerous trace metal significantly better than previous methods ever have.

“People usually use a filter that works over 24 hours to measure Iron (II),” Oakes explained.
“But what we found is that the filters underestimate Iron (II) by a lot.”

She reported that in some cases, the Particle-to-Liquid Sampler measured Iron (II) levels twice as high as those measured by the filters—a very significant difference.

Because the Sampler conducts automated measurements every 12 minutes, it does a better job than 24-hour filters at capturing changes in Iron (II) levels throughout the day.

As wind speeds change, it is common for Iron (II) levels to fluctuate, producing what Oakes calls “transient events,” or periods of time where iron levels oscillate strongly from high to low.

The average daily Iron (II) measurements produced from the filters tend to mask these fluctuations.
Oakes explained that her device and its ability to more accurately reflect Iron (II) variations over time could significantly benefit the public health community.

“From a health standpoint,” Oakes said, “you need something that’s reliable…you want to be able to see the times of day when it’s most dangerous for people to be outdoors.”

But there are additional advantages to the “totally new” device.
“Not only does it do a better job measuring variations, but it’s also much less labor intensive than using filters which require lots of hours and work,” Oakes pointed out.

Once adapted to become more easily deployable, the sampler could potentially help States measure trace metals more easily.
Oakes presented the work during Monday’s AAAR poster session and seemed pleased to share the new technology.
“I really enjoy working on this,” Oakes said smiling, “it’s a way to do chemistry, be outdoors, and make an impact.”

AAAR_intro

About the Author: Becky Fried is a science writer with EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research. Her OnAir posts are a regular “Science Wednesday” feature.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.