Project Number: 5442-32000-013-00
Start Date: Feb 08, 2011
End Date: Feb 07, 2016
Persistent organic pollutants, e.g. dioxins, dioxin-like compounds, brominated flame retardants, and perfluorinated compounds are ubiquitous environmental contaminants that can enter the food chain as animals are exposed through their surroundings and feeds. Because these compounds can cause numerous health effects in animals including cancers, developmental and neurological problems, and immune and reproductive systems disruptions, U.S. and international health organizations recommend continuing to decrease human exposure by lowering levels in foods and the environment. Our research efforts focus on reducing exposure to these contaminants using four approaches. First, surveys of the general food supply (especially meat, poultry, and farm-raised catfish) will be conducted and will provide background levels of these compounds in U.S. foods, serve as a periodic monitor of domestic foods, and track temporal trends. These data are critical to regulatory agencies for developing risk assessments. Second, rapid, inexpensive assays will be developed for detecting contaminants in food products. If successful, these assays may result in widespread monitoring of the food supply and environment, which currently is not feasible due to the high costs or lack of analytical methods. Third, sources that contribute to livestock exposure throughout the production process will be investigated and cataloged. Once identified, these sources may be eliminated, controlled, or avoided in farming practices. Fourth, basic research to determine pharmacokinetic parameters for these pollutants in laboratory and farm animals, potential remediation methods such as bacterial degradation or composting practices, and transport in soils and into plants will be investigated through controlled laboratory studies. These data will be used to estimate animal withdrawal intervals, evaluate source attribution, and elucidate strategies to decrease contaminant levels in food animals or the environment.