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Symposium Addresses Need for Regulation of Environmental Pollutants

The Department of Environmental and Occupational Health held its Seventh Annual Technology Symposium on February 16th, 2012. The event was titled, “Regulating Environmental Pollutants: Perchlorates and other Thyroid Active Chemicals,” and was co–sponsored by the Environmental and Occupational Health Alumni Chapter.

students present posters at eoh symposium

Alumni chapter president Bob Finkelstein talked about the goals for the symposium. “Our panel of faculty and professionals from the private sector were there to discuss leading-edge research and medical information about how environmental contaminates impact the body. This created a forum for professionals and students to understand how these contaminants interact, can be removed from the environment, and provide current information on proposed regulatory requirements.”

“As the public becomes more aware of the potential effects of thyroid-active chemicals in our environment, we have a greater responsibility in our role in the community to inform and educate so people can make better decisions, and so they won’t be sidetracked by misinformation,” Machado said. “Proper thyroid function is critical for brain development. Endocrine disruptors have potential impacts at every stage of life, from abnormal brain development and early pubertal onset to chronic diseases like diabetes and various cancers later in life.”Tony Machado addresses audience at the symposium

Scientists, physicians, industry professionals, government consultants and policy experts made up the panel. Presenters included R. Thomas Zoeller, University of Massachusetts; Dr. Gregory Brent, UCLA Veterans Administration; Dr. Ami Zota, UC San Francisco; Matt Becker, CSU Long Beach (he is also a Toxic Substance Control consultant for the Department of Toxic Substances); Dixie Hambrick of MWH Americas, Inc.; and Michael Sullivan, faculty, Cal State Northridge.

Several graduate students presented posters as part of the formal program. “Presenting to outstanding faculty from other institutions keeps our students sharp and exposes them to new ideas about their research topics,” Machado noted, “Plus it's really exciting for students to meet some of the scientists whose papers they had read in graduate school.“

Dr. Michael Sullivan, a professor in the EOH department, presented a human health and ecological risk assessment on a perchlorate-contaminated site. His presentation included a discussion of the toxicological data used to set safe levels in humans and animals. “The current allowable level,” Sullivan stated, “is based on a no effect level of perchlorate on iodine uptake in the thyroid of human volunteers.” The results of his presentation included recommendations for cleanup of the site and Dr. Sullivan concluded, “Soil concentrations in several areas should be removed in order to protect children, who are the most sensitive receptors.”

- Jean O'Sullivan