Our field and lab research focuses on understanding relationships between environmental properties (e.g., DOC, temperature, productivity) and chemical speciation/bioavailabilty of trace metals and organic compounds. We measure reaction rates and concentrations in environmental samples that can be used to parameterize and evaluate our modeling simulations. We use a variety of instruments in our lab including HPLC-MS/MS, ICP-MS, and MC-ICP-MS.
We use environmental models to investigate the broader spatial and temporal implications of relationships measured in the field and to synthesize multi-disciplinary research. Our models vary in complexity from statistical tools and relatively simple geochemical box models to global 3-D simulations of atmospheric and ocean circulation and ecology. We also model bioaccumulation of contaminants in aquatic food webs and collaborate with fisheries scientists to link our models to aquatic life.
We use food-frequency questionnaires (FFQs) and probabilistic exposure simulations integrated with toxicokinetic (TK) models to estimate human exposures to contaminants. We also measure human biomarkers of exposure (hair, blood). We work closely with environmental epidemiologists looking at dose-response relationships to quantify present risks and link this information with environmental models to help anticipate public health impacts of climate change and regulations.
- LIST OF CURRENT PROJECTS -
Funding: URI/Harvard Superfund Research Center funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) (2017-2022)
Project 1: Exposure Assessment and Chemometrics of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
Description: The aims of this work are to: 1) Develop novel statistical and modeling tools for source attribution of PFAS; 2) Better understand the vulnerability of drinking water suplies and seafood resources next to contaminated sites by studying biogeochemical factors that affect PFAS transport and bioaccumulation; 3) Better characterize PFAS exposure pathways and lifetimes for diverse human populations.
People: Lara Schultes, Heidi Pickard, Jennifer Sun, Bridger Ruyle, Colin Thackray
Collaborators: Philippe Grandjean (Harvard), Rainer Lohmann (URI), Angela Slitt (URI).
Funding: Harvard Superfund Research Center funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) (2020-2025)
Project 3: Metal mixtures in US drinking water
Description: The aims of this work are to identify geospatial clustering of metal mixtures in US groundwater and municipal drinking water supplies that lead to adverse human exposures and their association with known point sources.
People: Mona Dai, Jennifer Sun, Jonas LaPier
Collaborators: Cindy Hu (Mathematica), Francine Laden (Harvard), David Andrews (EWG)
Funding: DOD/SERDP (2019-2022)
Description: This project aims to better understand factors affecting the mobility and accumulation of PFAS in groundwater and includes sorption experiments, biodegradation experiments, and reactive-transport modeling.
People: Bridger Ruyle, Shelley McCann, Lara Schultes
Collaborators: Chad Vecitis (Nth Cycle), Rainer Lohmann (URI)
Funding: ATSDR/CDC (2020-2025)
Description: We are participating in community study looking at the health impacts of PFAS exposure from drinking water at contaminated sites in MA (Hyannis and Ayer) led by the Silent Spring Institute. Our role is to measure total extractable organofluorine in drinking water and human serum and to develop toxicokinetic models for PFAS exposure.
People: Elsie Sunderland
Collaborators: Laurel Schaider (Silent Spring), Clifton Dassuncao (ERG)
Environmental tipping points of cultural identity extinction in integrated human-ecological systems represented by small fishing nations
Funding: Nippon Foundation (2020-2022)
Description: This pilot project will examine how the occurrence of global environmental contaminants in traditional foods in the Faroe Islands has affected risk perception and cultural identity.
People: Charlotte Wagner
Collaborators: Yoshi Ota (UW), Russell Fielding
Funding: Harvard Global Institute (2017-2020)
Description: This project aims to better understand the cumulative health impacts associated with toxic pollutant emissions from coal-fired power plants, including both traditional air pollutants and a suite of heavy metals.
People: Prentiss Balcom, Aaron Specht (HSPH)
Collaborators: Asif Qureshi (IIT, India)
ground up estimates of atmospheric methane from aquatic ecosystems
Funding: NASA and Harvard Climate Change Solutions Fund (2017-2020)
Description: We are developing ground up global estimates for atmospheric methane releases from hydroelectric reservoirs and coastal ecosystems.
People: Colin Thackray and Kyle Delwiche (now at Stanford)
Collaborators: Daniel J. Jacob
Mercury cycling in terrestrial and permafrost regions
Description: Terrestrial ecosystems account for the largest global reservoir of mercury but processes controlling cycling and accumulation are poorly understood. We are collaborating with the USGS to interpret the measured distribution of soil mercury across the contiguous United States using the Global Terrestrial Mercury Model (GTMM). We are also extending the model to develop an improved representation of mercury accumulation in frozen soils. Collaboration with the WHRC is alllowing the collection of new data on mercury fluxes in permafrost soils.
People: Ben Geyman, Colin Thackray, Max Enrico, Prentiss Balcom, Scott Zolkos
Collaborators: Charley Driscoll (Syracuse), Dave Krabbenhoft (USGS), Sue Natali (WHRC), Kevin Schaefer (UCB)
- Past Research Sponsors -
- back to top -
We are examining how biogeochemical characteristics of surface water, groundwater and marine ecosytems influence the persistence, transformation and mobility of heavy metals and organic chemicals. This provides insights into the effects of future climate driven changes on chemical exposures and risks.
PCBs as benchmark compounds for understanding the impacts of climate change on cycling of neutral hydrophobic persistent organic pollutants in the global and Arctic oceans (Charlotte Wagner)
Mercury cycling in coastal and shelf regions of the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean (Ben Geyman, Pauline Beziat, Amina Schartup (now at NSF))
Carbon controls on methylmercury production in flooded ecosystems (Linjun Yao, Prentiss Balcom)
C.C. Wagner, H.M. Amos, C.P. Thackray, Y. Zhang, E.W. Lundgren, G. Forget, C.L. Friedman, N.E. Selin, R. Lohmann, E.M. Sunderland. 2019. A global 3-D ocean model for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): Benchmark compounds for understanding the impacts of global change on neutral persistent organic pollutants. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 33, 469-481.
X. Zhang, R. Lohmann, E.M. Sunderland. 2019. Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in seawater and plankton from the Northwestern Atlantic Margin. Environmental Science & Technology.
Group Administrator: Brenda Mathieu
Address: 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138
E-mail: bmathieu [at] seas.harvard.edu
Phone: +1 (617) 496-5745
Fax: +1 (617) 495-4551