Dartmouth Superfund Research Program Director Celia Chen represented Dartmouth College as an observing Civil Society Organization at the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP3) in Geneva November 25-29, 2019. The Conference was attended by parties (countries) that have ratified, accepted, approved or accessed the Minamata treaty or are in the process of ratifying it, as well as observers. Currently 115 countries have ratified or accepted the treaty. On June 11, 2013 the US was the first country to sign and accept the treaty. Discussion in “contact groups” (smaller meetings) included a focus on how the effectiveness of the treaty will be evaluated. No agreement was reached by the parties on Effectiveness Evaluation. Dr. Chen also represented Dartmouth at the 10th meeting of the Global Mercury Partnership, which was held prior to COP3, as a member of the Policy Advisory Group (PAG) on Fate and Transport of Mercury. COP4 will be in 2021.
Mary Lou Guerinot, Ph.D., Dartmouth Superfund Research Program (SRP) researcher and professor of Biological Sciences, is the senior researcher on a project that has discovered a gene that controls the iron uptake in plants. This discovery potentially could be key to the iron potency of rice and other crops that are a major part of the diet of more than half the world’s population. According to Dr. Guerinot, “We have discovered a key regulator in one of the world’s most important nutrient pathways. If we can now figure out how to optimize the pathway, we could feed billions of people that suffer from iron deficiency – a huge problem especially for women and children worldwide.” NH Union Leader Article. Dartmouth Press Release.
The Dartmouth Center team had a great time at the SRP Annual meeting in Seattle. Thanks to all of the meeting organizers! Brett Doherty (PhD Student with Project 4), gave a talk on “Periconceptional and prenatal exposure to metal mixtures in relation to behavioral development at three years of age in the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study.” Poster presentations were given by Anna Adachi-Mejia (CEC Leader) on “New Hampshire Arsenic MCL Reduction: A Case Study in Risk Communication Planning for Contaminants of Emerging Concern”; Jiang Gui (Project 4 researcher) on “An Integrated Gaussian Graphical Model to Evaluate the Impact of Exposures on Metabolic Networks”; Hannah Laue (Project 4 student) on “Early postnatal gut microbiome and nutrient-toxic element mixtures in a United States longitudinal birth cohort”; Laurie Rardin (RTC Coordinator) on “Creating Community for Government Partnerships: Two Case Studies of Research Translation”; Todd Warczak (Project 1 Trainee) on “Arsenic Detoxification in Plant Roots: Identifying Arsenic Effluxers; and Kevin Yuan (Project 2 student) on “Patterns of inorganic and organic co-contaminants in marine fish and shellfish.”
Photos from Annual Meeting
Dartmouth Superfund Research Program Director Celia Chen co-authored an opinion article on the importance of the partnership between science and policymaking for the successful implementation of the 2017 Minamata Convention on Mercury, as she participates in the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-3) in Geneva Switzerland. The Op-ed appears in the Inter Press Service News Agency and focuses on the importance of the decisions COP-3 delegates will make at the November 25-29 meeting in Geneva on measuring the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention in reducing environmental mercury. These decisions are especially important due to the numerous adverse health effects of mercury. Dr. Chen represents Dartmouth College as a member of COP-3’s Policy Advisory Group on the Fate and Transport of Mercury. COP-1 Information.
According to a news story on the UN Environment Programme website, mercury continues to “…endanger human and environmental health…” Tackling this problem by comprehensively addressing mercury throughout its lifecycle is the goal of the Minamata Convention on Mercury which is taking place November 25-29 in Geneva, Switzerland. Dartmouth SRP Director and researcher Dr. Celia Chen will be attending the Convention and will be representing Dartmouth on the Policy Advisory Group (PAG) on Fate and Transport of Mercury.
Dartmouth Superfund Research Program researchers Drs. Celia Chen and Tracy Punshon presented at the session, “Contaminant Mixtures in Food: How Did They Get There and Should We Be Concerned,” at SETAC’s (Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry) annual meeting in Toronto. The objective of the session, which was co-chaired by Drs. Chen and Danielle Carlin of NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences), was to provide further understanding of the relationship between inorganic and organic contaminants in different food sources, novel statistical approaches to addressing the co-occurrence of contaminants in food, assessment of the potential health effects of mixtures, and strategies for prevention of exposures. Dr. Punshon, an invited speaker, presented a talk on “Carrageenan as a Source of Arsenic, Lead and Cadmium in Infant Foods.” Dr. Chen presented the poster “Patterns of Mercury and Metal and Organic Contaminants in Marine Fish and Shellfish.” Other session speakers included Drs. Wendy Heiger-Bermays from Boston University, Claire O’Brien from UC Davis, Julia Gohike from Virginia Tech, Jordan Smith from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Dr. Sarah Rothenberg from Oregon State University, and Julia Bauer, Ph.D. Candidate, from Oregon State University. Meeting program.
The Dartmouth SRP Center is featured in a NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Science) website story on the signing into law of NH legislation to lower MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) for Arsenic from 10 ppb to 5 ppb. The story describes how our SRP research, partnership, Research Translation and Community Engagement activities informed the passage of the legislation. NIEHS write up.
Gary Ginsberg, Ph.D., Director NY State Department of Health’s Center for Environmental Health and Professor at Yale University, met with our Dartmouth Superfund Research Program team and several trainees to discuss risk assessment and toxicology regarding emerging contaminants, including PFAS and 1-4 Dioxane. Dr. Ginsberg also participated in lunch-time conversation with our state partners from the VT Department of Health and NH DES (Department of Environmental Services) and NH DHHS (Health and Human Services) to discuss issues of mutual concern pertaining to emerging contaminants and PFAS in particular. More than 50 people attended an afternoon seminar Dr. Ginsberg gave on “The Challenge and Opportunities Presented by Emerging Contaminants.”
According to an NHPR (NH Public Radio) story, recent testing data indicates many NH public water systems likely will not be in compliance with the state’s new arsenic in drinking water standard of 5 ppb that will go into effect in mid-2021. According to Paul Susca of NHDES (Department of Environmental Services) Drinking Water Bureau, state officials are working with potentially affected water systems on how they can be in compliance with the new limit. The new standard, which is lower than the federal standard of 10 ppb, was enacted because of the linkage between arsenic exposure and illnesses such as lung and bladder cancer and elevated risks of cardiovascular and developmental problems. The NHPR coverage cites research by Dartmouth’s Superfund Research Program on the large number of private wells that will exceed the 5 ppb standard, as well as a study on the increased risk of bladder cancer. Although the new standard does not apply to private wells, private well owners are encouraged to comply with the new limits due to the health risks of As in drinking water, according to Paul Susca.
Dartmouth College has received a grant of $5000 from the Wellborn Foundation for our Superfund Research Program’s Dragonfly Project. The Dragonfly Project involves working with high school science classes in NH and VT to collect dragonfly larvae for mercury testing. The Project is part of our effort to educate students about “…mercury in our world and the importance of clear, data-based scientific research and communication to mitigate mercury risks.” More information on the grant.