July 26, 2006 -- Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Center for International Earth Science Information Network announced that they have been awarded a five-year, $16.9 million grant renewal from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP). The grant will fund ongoing investigations into the health effects and geochemistry of arsenic and manganese exposure, particularly in groundwater of New England and South Asia.
Building upon Columbia University's SBRP research progress over the past six years in conjunction with a previous, $11 million award, the highly competitive grant renewal will enable this multi-disciplinary team of scientists to conduct research concerning anthropogenic and naturally occurring sources of human exposure to arsenic and manganese in New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Maine. The award also allows for a continuation of the group's landmark work in Bangladesh, where tens of millions of people have been chronically exposed to naturally occurring arsenic in drinking water. Although arsenic is an environmental carcinogen that affects millions of people worldwide, at high levels such as those found in Bangladesh it is also associated with a constellation of other adverse health effects, including diseases of the cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine, and nervous systems.
According to the team's researchers, arsenic contamination of groundwater and soils is associated with serious and widespread public health, mitigation, and environmental policy problems. "Arsenic contamination of groundwater has been documented in nearly 20 countries, including the U.S. as the result of either natural geologic processes or from mining, industrial and agricultural activities," said Joseph Graziano, professor of Environmental Health Sciences and director of the Columbia Superfund program. "Because exposure to
Contact: Ken Kostel
The Earth Institute at Columbia University