Brown University researchers studying contaminated sites around the state have gotten a $10.8 million dollar boost from the federal government to continue their work for the next five years.
It’s the third round of support for Brown University’s Superfund Research Program (Toxicant Exposures: Past, Present, and Future) from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Rhode Island, with a long history of industrial activity, has 12 Superfund sites around the state.
Kim Boekelheide, director of Brown’s Superfund Research Program, said the money will help researchers and students advance their work in resolving problems at these sites.
“These are complicated sites and it’s difficult to know how to manage them,” said Boekelheide. “And our goal is to help do the job of providing the information that will enhance management.”
Boekelheide points to the work the program has done with the state’s Department of Environmental Management as an example of the type of work the program produces.
DEM scientists wanted to better understand how toxic vapors move through buildings that have been built on contaminated sites. They turned to researchers with the Superfund Research Program to develop a model that traces the movement of those chemicals and predicts their health effects so that regulators can manage those contaminated sites better.
The program will receive more than $2.1 million each year through 2020.
“It’s a significant amount of resources that we’re able to devote to basic science research as well as the translation of that basic science research,” said Boekelheide.
Boekelheide said breaking down that basic science helps regulators and communities understand what’s happening in their neighborhoods as well as how to minimize exposure to toxic chemicals.
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