UNC Superfund Research Program

A recent paper from Dr. Rebecca Fry's lab was named Article of the Month by The Children’s Environmental Health Network. The study, Maternal Arsenic Exposure, Arsenic Methylation Efficiency, & Birth Outcomes in the Biomarkers of Exposure to Arsenic (BEAR) Pregnancy Cohort in Mexico examined the association of inorganic arsenic exposure during pregnancy and corresponding birth outcomes in a pregnancy cohort in Mexico.
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."
Rebecca Fry, PhD

The UNC Superfund Research Program (UNC SRP)/NC Center for Environmental Risk Analysis (NC-CERA) seeks to understand the human health and environmental risks associated with exposure to toxic chemicals found at hazardous waste sites. 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
Research Highlight

Study investigates role of cadmium and microRNAs in preeclampsia

Dr. Rebecca Fry’s research team has identified an underlying biological mechanism by which exposure to cadmium may increase the risk of developing preeclampsia.

Using a highly translational approach, the researchers integrated analyses of human placental tissue with cell culture experiments to demonstrate that cadmium is correlated with the expression of miRNAs that target the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) pathway.

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Project Update

Building capacity for Well Empowered communities: Preventing exposure to toxic metals in private wells

In February, researchers from the UNC SRP presented the final phase of an 18-month-long pilot study about well-water contamination to community members in North Carolina’s Stokes and Wayne counties. Members of SRP’s Well Empowered research team had worked to identify toxic metals contamination in private wells and had engaged with communities in the state to determine affordable, evidence-based solutions to reduce exposure to these contaminants.

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Research Highlight

Rugosibacter aromaticivorans grown on pyrene

Researchers identify two new genera of bacteria associated with PAH degradation in soil

Researchers in Dr. Singleton’s lab (Project 5) have isolated and described two novel polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-degrading bacteria obtained from contaminated soils of former manufactured gas plant (MGP) sites in NC. These microbes represent specific strains within larger groups of previously uncharacterized bacteria described by the research team as “Pyrene Group 1 (PG1)” and “Pyrene Group 2 (PG2)”, so named due to their initial association with the PAH pyrene.

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