Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
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GLRPPR Contacts: Friends Children's Environmental Health Center

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Friends Children's Environmental Health Center
Dept. of Veterinary Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, 3808 VMBSB
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Telephone: 217-333-6230
www.friendscenter.uiuc.edu/

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Service Scope:

  • Regional

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  • The research objectives of the FRIENDS Children's Environmental Health Center are to study the impact of exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and methylmercury (MeHg) on cognitive, sensory and motor development of children, and to develop effective educational strategies to reduce further exposure to these neurotoxic contaminants in at risk populations. PCBs and MeHg tend to occur together in the environment and recent research suggests that the two compounds may have additive or synergistic effects on nervous system function. The Center will build on several long-standing research collaborations and will be organized around an exposure cohort that is already in the process of being recruited. The population consists of Hmong and Laotian refugees who are consuming PCB- and MeHg-contaminated fish from the Fox River and other contaminated waters in northeastern Wisconsin.

    The Center includes an administrative core, a community-based project, two biomedical research projects and an analytical toxicology facilities core. The two primary goals of the community-based project are: (1) to evaluate the impact of PCB and MeHg exposure on women's reproductive health and child development, and (2) to educate families about the risks associated with eating contaminated fish and provide them with practical information that will help them to reduce their exposure to PCBs and MeHg. The assessments of the children will focus on specific aspects of behavioral and sensory function that have not been adequately addressed in previous human studies. These goals will be accomplished in partnership with community resource groups and public schools in the area. The two biomedical research projects will complement the community-based project by characterizing the cognitive, sensory, motor and neurochemical effects of exposure to PCBs alone, MeHg alone or PCBs and MeHg in combination in an animal model (Long Evans rats). Both projects will use a mixture of PCBs that will be specifically formulated to model the PCB congener profile in Fox River fish, as well as a ratio of PCBs to MeHg that is similar to that found in the fish. The findings from these animal studies will be used to guide the selection of additional behavioral and sensory endpoints that should be assessed in the Hmong and Laotian children exposed to PCBs through maternal consumption of Fox River fish. The analytical toxicology core will formulate the PCB mixture to be use in the animal studies and provide congener specific PCB and pesticide analysis, analysis of heavy metals, and estimates of total dioxin-like activity in human and animal samples, in support of both the epidemiological and basic research components of the Center. The administrative core will provide oversight, coordination and integration of all Center activities.

GLRPPR is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange, a national network of regional information centers: NEWMOA (Northeast), WRRC (Southeast), GLRPPR (Great Lakes), ZeroWasteNet (Southwest), P2RIC (Plains), Peaks to Prairies (Mountain), WSPPN (Pacific Southwest), PPRC (Northwest).

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One East Hazelwood Drive; Champaign, IL; 61820; (800) 407-0261; glrppr@istc.illinois.edu