December 5, 2018

9:00pm – 10:00pm

UCLA Center for Health Sciences, CHS 43-105

EHS & The Molecular Toxicology IDP Present:

Assessing Cardiorespiratory Risk from Dusts Arising from Uranium Mines on Tribal Lands

Matthew Campen, Ph.D.
Regents’ Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of New Mexico

About the lecture: Hundreds of abandoned uranium mine sites exist on Navajo Nation, and thousands more are present throughout the Western US. These sites contain not only uranium as a contaminant, but often other metals such as vanadium, cadmium, and arsenic. While much research has explored solubility of contaminants entering the soil and water systems, little is known about how metals may be a health hazard if they are resuspended as particulates in the air and inhaled. Much research on general ambient particulates has shown that dusts smaller than 10 micrometers can be inhaled and cause respiratory and cardiovascular health effects. Our studies began with the question of whether mine site-derived particulates would be more toxic than particulates derived from background sediments. Using particulates derived from sediments of the Claim 28 site in Blue Gap Tachee, AZ, we identified significant contamination of uranium and vanadium compared to background. After isolating those particulates small enough to be inhaled from mine site and background sediments, we conducted in vivo and in vitro studies and ascertained that the mine site-derived PM was substantially more toxic in terms of acute inflammation and injury to the lung, as well as oxidative and inflammatory responses from macrophages exposed in vitro. These results provided the impetus to begin a more extensive campaign to examine the ambient air particles in potentially contaminated regions using a mobile exposure laboratory. Wind direction and velocity and PM metals measurements, along with rodent toxicity assessments are being used to determine whether any plausible threat exists from windblown dusts in the mine site regions. Results from these ongoing studies will help ascertain the likelihood that nearby residents may be affected or not by inhaled particulates.

About the speaker: Dr. Campen is an expert in the cardiopulmonary health effects of air pollution. He is also broadly interested in the cross-talk of the cardiovascular and respiratory system in health and disease, conducting basic and clinical research into the nature of comorbidities that promote cardiovascular illness. His primary research focus involves the impact of inhaled toxicants, especially common air pollutants, on vascular function and injury. He received his Ph.D. From the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Environmental Health Sciences, and conducted postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University. He is currently the Deputy Director of the UNM Superfund Center and Director of the Career Development (KL2) program in the UNM Clinical and Translational Science Center.

Supported by the UCLA NIEHS Training Grant in Molecular Toxicology T32ES015457 & The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, UCLA CTSI Grant UL1TR001881.

For more information, contact Dr. Oliver Hankinson at