Exposure Science Lab Exposure assessment and biomarkers for health evaluation

Current Projects

Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) contamination and neurobehavioral health among children in Martinsville, IN 

PCE is a known neurotoxicant. High levels of exposure can affect the central nervous system. Exposures among industry workers are associated with changes in mood, visuospatial memory, attention, and reaction time.  Children may be more vulnerable to PCE exposures because of their developing central nervous systems. In this project, we will 1) characterize children’s exposure to PCE; and 2) determine if PCE exposure in Martinsville is associated with adverse neurobehavioral performance among children.  Through an established academic and community partnership, the project aims to providing information about PCE exposure and health impacts on the Martinsville community.

Groundwater Contamination and Health Equity in a Deindustrialized Midwestern Community 
In this project, we study, 1) How do differentially-situated community members perceive and respond to information about the risks that environmental contamination poses to their health? 2) What are the levels of risk associated with exposure to different sources of the same environmental contaminant? 3) Do (and if so how do) levels of risk differ in relation to socio-economic and environmental factors, such as income, education, family size, and primary water source? Our overall goal is to improve how information on exposure risk is produced and consumed to motivate meaningful improvements in health outcomes and health equity, especially in insular communities that remain skeptical of both science and the state. This project is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program. 

PCE exposure in Martinsville (pilot project) 

Groundwater in Martinsville, Indiana has been contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mainly tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), for almost two decades (ref#1). One of the contaminated groundwater plumes, the Pike and Mulberry Streets PCE Plume, was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) in May 2013. We conducted a pilot project in October 2019 - February 2020 to investigate the extent, level, and pathways of community members' exposure to VOCs in Martinsville. The project was covered by news media for its launch, preliminary results, and results translation/community outreach. Multiple grant proposals were developed based on this investigation. 

Reference#1. Health Consultation – Public Comment Version – Pike and Mulberry Streets PCE Plume (PDF)


  • Research