UNC Superfund Research Program

Drew Cade, manager of Lake Crabtree County Park, shares his perspective on the community impacts of a neighboring Superfund site with reporters during an Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources field trip sponsored by the Research Translation Core.
Message from the Director
"We conduct cutting-edge research to advance methods for detecting toxic chemicals in the environment, cleaning up contaminated sites, and minimizing human and environmental risks due to exposure."
James Swenberg, DVM, PhD
Kenan Distinguished Professor

The UNC Superfund Research Program (UNC SRP) seeks to understand the human health and environmental risks associated with exposure to toxic chemicals found at hazardous waste sites.

We bring together a diverse group of scientists, engineers, science communicators and trainees with the goal of improving how these risks are calculated and communicated. Learn more.

Our research interests include:

  • Improving our ability to evaluate risk from low-dose exposures;
  • Developing biological markers that indicate when a person has been exposed to a chemical;
  • Using a systems biology framework to understand the pathways of environmental disease and how chemicals can cause changes to our DNA;
  • Understanding how individuals differ in their susceptibility and risk, and how our genes play a role in the development of disease
  • Improving methods to measure chronic exposure and bioavailability of toxic chemicals in the environment
  • Evaluating factors that influence toxicity of soil during and after bioremediation

Dr. James Swenberg presented on the Endogenous Exposome on September 30 2014  during the Environmental Exposure Science Symposium at The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences.  The symposium, part of Agilent Technologies’ Emerging Omics Research Tour, focused on regional perspectives to integrate exposure and exposome measurement with effects on human health.

Program Updates

A recent paper in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology highlights the need to biomonitor for exposure to toxic metals during pregnancy among all women of child-bearing age.
Dr. Rebecca Fry‘s lab studied the relationship between blood cadmium levels and demographics in a North Carolina cohort of pregnant women, finding that over 60% of the cohort had elevated cadmium levels. [read more]

Featured Resource

Informing Private Well Owners

More than 3 million North Carolinians rely on groundwater as their primary drinking water source.  Find out how well water contamination can potentially impact your health and view the distribution of contaminants across North Carolina. Explore resources for testing your well water, understanding your results, and navigating a sample well-testing results form.