About Our Program

The theme of the University of Arizona Superfund Research Center (UA SRC) is “Hazardous Waste Risk and Remediation in the Southwest.” Our goals are to address the health effects of contaminants of concern in the U.S. Southwest, including the Arizona-Sonora Border and Native Nations, as well as to characterize, contain, and remediate hazardous waste sites.The UA SRC program has been continually funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) since 1989.

Hazards Emphasized:

We focus on arid climates, where water is precious, and dust is ever-present. However, the results of our studies are directly relevant to problems faced in many areas of world. Currently one-third of land surfaces are arid or semi-arid, and this proportion is expected to increase with climate change. Exposure routes, contaminant characterization, and remediation in such environments differ from temperate regions of the world. Furthermore, the main toxicants being examined, arsenic and mine tailings, are of significant concern throughout the world. Thus, our program will also provide principles of toxicology and remediation that can be applied both nationally and internationally, regardless of climatic conditions.

NIEHS Superfund Research Program:

The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) funds university-based multidisciplinary research on human health and environmental issues related to hazardous substances. The central goal is to understand and break the link between chemical exposure and disease via the development, testing, and implementation of unique, solution-oriented approaches to complex environmental health problems. SRP research efforts complement existing activities within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Our current funding period continues through March 31, 2017.

Goals and Research Objectives:

The overall goals of the UA SRC are:

  1. to support the development of a risk assessment process for dusts and associated metal(loid) contaminants generated by hardrock mining through toxicologic and biogeochemical studies; and
  2. to develop innovative remediation technologies that will mitigate this risk.

The specific aims of the UA SRC are :

  1. to better understand the developmental and metabolic effects underlying the toxicity of arsenic, considering the potential contribution of dust inhalation/ingestion to overall exposure.
  2. to characterize mining wastes (before and after remediation) to assess the bioaccessibility (and potential for toxicity) of associated metal(loid)s and their migration potential.
  3. to develop approaches and guidance for the permanent remediation of mining wastes to achieve effective disruption of the major exposure routes for metal(loid) toxicants.
  4. to mitigate the human impacts of exposure to mining waste through effective research translation and community engagement driven by community-engaged research.
  5. to serve as a global resource for human and environmental health issues associated with hardrock mining.
  6. to produce transdisciplinary graduates who are equipped to address complex 21st century environmental hazardous waste problems.

To learn more about our past research projects and objectives, please visit the NIEHS Superfund Research Program website.