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US EPA Superfund Sites in Utah: Applications for Environmental Health Research

Semester: Summer 2023


Presentation description

Research has documented adverse effects on human health from various environmental hazards. Most studies examining the effects of environmental hazards on health are cross-sectional and depend on publicly available pollution data that is limited in historical coverage. Sources of pollution (e.g., landfills, railyards, and manufacturing facilities) have existed long before the establishment of monitoring by agencies like the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Using pollution data that is restricted in temporal scope to recent years precludes researchers from examining historical pollutant sources and their effects on human populations throughout the life course and across generations. Thus, assembling historical exposure data is valuable as it allows researchers to examine long-term and transgenerational health effects of environmental hazards. One underutilized source of historical exposure data pertains to sites designated by the EPA under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (known as Superfund). In Utah, we identified 576 Superfund sites associated with polluting industrial operations dating as far back as the 1850s. All sites are impacted by the release of various contaminants that impact human health, ranging from historic residential toxic chemical spills to emissions from mining and smelting. Using historic records and other resources such as the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, we comprehensively compiled information on years of operation, site types (e.g., 146 are manufacturing-related), chemical type (e.g., 76 include hydrocarbon contamination), and location (e.g., 233 are in Salt Lake County). The next step in our project is to use these historical data to estimate parents' exposures to Superfund site hazards and test for health effects on their children. Specifically, we will use protected demographic and health data from the Utah Population Database to examine the associations between parental exposures at the time of their birth and the risk of their children having an intellectual disability.

Presenter Name: Kevin Ramos

Presentation Type: Poster
Presentation Format: In Person
Presentation #21
College: Social & Behavioral Science
School / Department: Sociology
Research Mentor: Sara Grineski
Date | Time: Thursday, Aug 3rd | 10:30 AM