Arsenic Overview Series - Part 6

University Research Programs

What research is being done at University's throughout the US? Colleges and universities across the U.S. are continuing their efforts in educating the population on the subject of arsenic. Both public and private universities are contributing their time, money, and expertise in areas of arsenic research such as geochemistry, health effects, and treatment options. Research programs, such as the ones listed below, are just a glimpse of the ongoing studies for arsenic. Ongoing research is necessary in order to continue to develop efficient and cost-effective solutions for the far-reaching problem of arsenic contamination.

Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College scientists currently are taking a comprehensive look at the effects of arsenic and other toxic metals during the next five years. Backed by a $15 million federal grant, the Toxic Metals Research Program involves more then 60 Dartmouth faculty, physicians and staff from 14 departments. Their work is expected to help shape national policy on the relationship between exposure and health effects due to toxic metals. Currently, they are exploring how natural and man-made sources of arsenic contribute to human exposure, plotting how arsenic moves through ecosystems, studying whether arsenic at different levels in drinking water raise the risk of disease in humans, and studying how arsenic affects the cellular processes that contribute to causing cancer and heart disease. For more information on the research at Dartmouth College, contact Nancy Serrell at (603) 646-2117.

University of Houston
Researchers at the University of Houston are examining the best methods to treat and remove arsenic from drinking water.The project’s lead investigator, Dr. Dennis Clifford, is a recognized author and researcher of arsenic removal processes.His expertise includes the development of treatment methods to remove arsenic, perchlorate and other inorganic or radioactive contaminants from aquifers that supply drinking water.Currently, Dr. Clifford and his research students are looking into the Development of Field Separation Methods for Arsenic Inorganic Species, Arsenic Treatment Technology Demonstration of Effectiveness of Modified Aluminas, and Laboratory Study for the Oxidation of Arsenic (III).Dr. Clifford’s research group is sponsored by $4.4 million from local, federal and international funds.For more information on the ongoing research at the University of Houston, contact Dr. Dennis Clifford at (713) 743-4266, e-mail at daclifford@uh.edu.

Montana State University-Bozeman
Scientists from the Drinking Water Assistance Program based at the Montana Water Center at Montana State University-Bozeman also are researching several interesting areas on the effects of arsenic. The scientists are testing cost-effective technologies aimed at making drinking water safer in small communities all over the country. The drinking water program supplies third-party validation to those states that regulate small public water systems funded by the EPA.The arsenic removal project is headquartered at the University of Nevada testing new arsenic removal methods that are less expensive than current techniques. Soil scientists at Montana State University-Bozeman also are studying the mobility of arsenic through the ground and into our water supply.Bill Inskeep, a soil scientist at MSU-Bozeman, recently completed work that shows that adding lime to soil to reduce its acidity increases arsenic movement. Inskeep’s study showed that adding lime to arsenic-contaminated soils in his laboratory increased the arsenic level in the water that seeped through the soil 10 to 100 times. By understanding the mobility of arsenic through this study, we improve our ability to predict where and how quickly arsenic will move through the ground and into our drinking water. For more information, contact Gretchen Rupp at (406) 994-1748 or Bill Inskeep at (406) 994-5077.

University of Idaho
The University of Idaho’s Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology Laboratory is exploring the need to improve existing technologies to make them more affordable, yet effective and efficient.They also hope to develop new, less-expensive treatment methods to remove arsenic from potable waters all over the world.Their research employs two iron-based approaches in a fluidized moving bed or slurry bed reactor. Both approaches act as a type of filtration medium and employ configurations that improve kinetics of arsenic adsorption while bringing arsenic concentrations to lower levels. The high arsenic complexation capacity of the materials may simplify the treatment process and reduce operating costs, waste products and replacement of reagents. For more information, contact Dr. Greg Moller at gmoller@uidaho.edu.

University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley is the home of the Arsenic Research Program directed by Allan H. Smith, M.D., Ph. D., Professor of Epidemiology. Arsenic research began at UC Berkeley more than 10 years ago and focused mainly on cancer.Currently, the program is involved in international studies in Argentina, Chile, India and Bangladesh as well as in the United States. The program is based at the UC Berkeley campus but contains collaborators from the University of Washington, Seattle and the University of California, San Francisco.Their research is focused on the dose-response relationship between arsenic and cancer risks, nutritional and genetic susceptibility to arsenic effects, DNA analysis of tumors in exposed populations and a look at the non-cancer effects of arsenic exposure including skin lesions and respiratory disease. For more information on the ongoing research at UC Berkeley, contact the School of Public Health’s Division of Environmental Health Sciences at (510)-843-1736, e-mail at asrg@socrates.berkeley.edu.

New Mexico Tech
Researchers at New Mexico Tech are focused on environmental studies of arsenic in ground and surface waters.Environmental research is being conducted with geologists in Ghana, West Africa, by Dr. David Norman, Professor of Geochemistry, on arsenic contamination of surface waters.Research also is being performed on the natural changes in arsenic speciation and its behavior within water and sediment.For more information on the ongoing research at New Mexico Tech, contact Dr. David Norman at dnorman@nmt.edu.

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