UA SRP Hosts Successful Airborne Mineral Dust Contaminants Conference

June 1, 2013

“Airborne Mineral Dust Contaminants: Impacts on Human Health and the Environment” was recently hosted by the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP). Held May 20-21 at the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson, AZ, the workshop was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), with support from the UA Water Sustainability Program and Institute for Mineral Resources.

The goal of the workshop was to stimulate interaction among different research communities interested in dust and to promote better integration of research on airborne mineral dust from emissions to environmental exposure. Nearly 60 scientists came together from the academic, regulatory, and industrial sectors, with some international participants traveling from as far away as Australia, Mongolia, and China. The topics covered ranged from identifying sources and measuring characteristics of dust to understanding health and environmental impacts. Importantly, workshop participants identified knowledge gaps in the field. Participants will be able to continue the discussion on the conference webpage blog, and will be contributing papers to a special edition of the journal Aeolian Research.

Among the participants were sixteen students from the United States and Mexico. The student poster session began with an oral data blitz, in which students had 1-2 minutes to provide an “elevator pitch” and invite participants to view their posters. “The students were a lot of fun, and the audience enjoyed it,” says UA SRP investigator Dr. Eric Betterton, one of the conference organizers. Other workshop activities and networking opportunities included lunches and a dinner on the patio overlooking the Santa Catalina Mountains, authentic Mexican food, and of course, the sunny Tucson weather.

Dr. Betterton described the scientific presentations as “superlative” and says he learned something from every talk. The participants enjoyed themselves, the discussions were fruitful, and the workshop was considered to be a great success by the UA SRP organizers. Dr. Tom Gill, from the University of Texas, El Paso, said it was a “first-class workshop.  I hope there will be another one and I can come back.”

For conference agenda and more, click here.