PROTECT Researchers to Present at April 2 RiskeLearning Web Seminars

Project 2 Leader Rita Loch-Caruso and Project 1 Leader John Meeker will be presenting in the next NIEHS SRP Risk e-Learning webinars in the series Early Life Exposures – Long-Term Health Consequences

The session, which will address PCE and Phthalates, will be held April 2, 2012 from 1-3:00 p.m. ET – register on EPA’s CLU-IN website (

This session will feature SRP grantees Ann Aschengrau, Sc.D. (Boston University), John Meeker, Sc.D. (University of Michigan) and Rita Loch-Caruso, Ph.D. (University of Michigan) and their work with early exposures and their resulting developmental effects. Numerous neurotoxic effects have been associated with tetrachloroethylene (PCE) exposure in adults, but little is understood about long-term nervous system effects from early exposures. Aschengrau’s retrospective epidemiological study on a population of adults investigates the association between prenatal and early childhood exposure to PCE-contaminated drinking water and a variety of neurotoxic effects including the occurrence of drug use and mental illness.

Meeker employs molecular epidemiological methods to explore environmental, genetic, demographic, and behavioral factors associated with preterm birth in a cohort of pregnant women in Puerto Rico, a study from the Northeastern University SRP Center. Puerto Rico has a particularly alarming preterm birth rate and there is mounting evidence that environmental factors play a key role. This study targets phthalates as the primary exposure of interest, due to their increasingly widespread exposure in Puerto Rico and the US and their association with reduced gestational age and other effects potentially linked with preterm birth, including inflammation, endocrine disruption, and oxidative stress. Using the Puerto Rican exposure scenario as a model, Loch-Caruso’s research aims to explain the mechanisms by which environmental pollutant exposures increase women’s risk for preterm births and other adverse birth outcomes, by investigating the relationship between the toxicological effect of oxidative stress from environmental contaminants and the activation of pathways associated of parturition.