Medical Student Research Fellowship for Summer 2009
Mentor: Dr. Arnold Schecter
Department: U.T.School of Public Health Dallas Campus at Southwestern Medical Center
Room number: V8.112E
Mail Code: 9128
Phone number: 214-648-1096
Project title: Persistent organic pollutants in occupationally exposed workers
Human subjects IRB approved project number (where applicable): Pending
Animal subjects IRB approved project number (where applicable): NA
Project Type: Patient-based research
Brief Description of Project: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are relatively new toxic synthetic persistent organic pollutant flame retardants. Elevated body burdens of PBDEs estimated by blood measurements , have been found in exposed workers. Recently, elevated blood levels were reported in European business travelers after airplane flights compared to levels prior to flying. Elevated levels of PBDEs were also reported in dust collected from these airplanes. Flight attendants, pilots and frequent business travelers may have even more elevated body burdens of PBDEs. A pilot study will be performed on a group of U.S. volunteers who will be selected, based on amount of flight time the past 5 years; blood measurements will be made and the results compared with levels found in the general US population, matched by age and sex, from data available from NHANES. If elevated levels are found, the source or sources will be determined and recommendations to lower the levels of PBDEs in aircraft made to the airliners. Publication in a peer reviewed journal is envisioned as a means of communication to potentially exposed workers. Further study with a large and representative sample will be conducted if our hypothesis is correct, that time spent in airplanes by workers leads to elevated body burden (blood measurement) of PBDEs. At a later time, epidemiological studies may be conducted if indicated. Exposure determination and prevention of exposure will be the focus of this pilot study.
Previous Research Activities or Publications with Medical Students: Dr. Schecter has published articles with medical students, first at Harvard Medical School, then at the State University of New York, Binghamton students on dioxins, PCBs, and dibenzofurans with medical students over the past years and most recently with U. Texas School of Public Health Dallas Campus at Southwestern Medical Center on dioxins, dibenzofurans, PCBs, and brominated flame retardants such as PBDEs.