Tag Archives: toxic


6 Jul

Koppers Plain Talk explores the science of Gainesville’s Superfund Site, shedding light on the health effects of its toxins.

EPA’s 2009 chart documenting the health effects of Koppers contaminants of concern is particularly informative- and alarming. To view this document, go to koppersplaintalk.com, choose The Science tab and scroll to the bottom. Check out the rest of this educational site.


National Institute of Health (NIH): Dioxin exposure causes transgenerational health effects

27 Sep

In a WSU press release, Skinner said of his latest findings, “It is not just the individuals exposed, but potentially the great-grandchildren that may experience increased adult-onset disease susceptibility.”

By Brant Hamel

A new study, funded in part by NIEHS, found that dioxin affects not only the health of an exposed rat, but also unexposed descendants through a mechanism of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance.

The study was conducted in the laboratory of Michael Skinner, Ph.D., a professor in the Center for Reproductive Biology in the Department of Biological Sciences at Washington State University (WSU) who designed the study. Co-authors included assistant research professor Mohan Manikkam, Ph.D., research technician Rebecca Tracey, and postdoctoral researcher Carlos Guerrero-Bosagna, Ph.D.

“Although not designed for risk assessment, these results have implications for the human populations that are exposed to dioxin and are experiencing declines in fertility and increases in adult onset disease, with a potential to transmit them to later generations,” the authors concluded.

Dangers of dioxin last for decades after initial exposure

Dioxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo[p]dioxin (TCDD), is a chemical compound that constitutes part of the Agent Orange herbicide used as a defoliant in the Vietnam War. According to research cited in the study, exposure is estimated to have caused 400,000 deaths and 500,000 birth defects. Dioxin has also been released from industrial accidents, leading to human exposures. Due to its extremely long half-life of up to 10 years in humans, dioxin may still affect pregnancies occurring even 20 years after exposure.

In the Skinner group’s experiments, exposure to dioxin caused changes in the DNA methylation patterns of sperm that were transmitted across generations, in an imprinted-like manner, to affect the health of multiple generations of descendents. The grandchildren of exposed rats showed dioxin-induced effects ranging from polycystic ovarian disease to kidney disease. The work raises the serious concern that even if toxic chemicals, such as dioxin, were completely removed from the environment, they could continue to cause disease for multiple generations.

Health effects of dioxin include early onset of puberty in females

Skinner’s group used low in vivo doses of dioxin, so that toxic effects were not expected. Female rats were exposed while pregnant, and both their direct progeny and descendants two generations removed were examined.

Although the most prominent phenotypes were kidney disease in males and polycystic ovarian disease in females, a number of other effects including abscesses, colon impaction, lung abnormalities, and missing testes were also observed in animals from the dioxin-treated lineage. Additionally, females from the dioxin-exposed lineage experienced the early onset of puberty. Conversely, males showed delayed puberty, suggesting sex-specific effects of exposure. Early puberty in humans has increased over recent decades and is believed to have an environmental link.

Dioxin alters methylation patterns in germ line DNA across generations

The researchers were able to identify 50 specific regions of DNA that were differentially methylated in the dioxin-treated animals. These regions were permanently reprogrammed and protected from DNA methylation, in a manner that allowed them to be passed down across generations. In the future, these regions may serve as biomarkers that would allow early detection of exposure and risk for disease.

Other chemical compounds, including bisphenol A, phthalates, the insecticide DEET, and the jet fuel JP8 have all been shown to promote disease across generations, through a similar mechanism of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance (see story). This pathway of disease propagation exists not only in rats, but also in humans, mice, worms, flies, and even plants. Thus, future research will be needed to see if other environmental compounds may also lead to health effects across generations.

In addition to NIEHS, NIH and the U.S. Department of Defense provided support for the study.

Citation: Manikkam M, Tracey R, Guerrero-Bosagna C, Skinner MK. 2012. Dioxin (TCDD) induces epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease and sperm epimutations. PLoS One 7(9):e46249.

(Brant Hamel, Ph.D., is an Intramural Research Training Award fellow in the NIEHS Laboratory of Signal Transduction.)



19 Jun

We the victims of Koppers Gainesville, one of the Nation’s oldest and most toxic Superfund Sites, outright reject AMEC’s soil sampling due to these facts:

Trees absorb contaminants from adjacent soils, thereby lowering the toxin levels in those soils.  Stephen Foster Neighborhood residents saw employees of AMEC- also known as MACTEC- break soil collection protocol by taking samples from soil immediately next to tree-trunks.  And, in the months prior to soil collection, residents saw new soil added to several properties where soil samples were later collected.

Worse, many residents witnessed AMEC employees diluting soil samples.  They were seen performing the following actions:

1.     Placing clean soil from a potting soil bag into a stainless steel mixing bowl
2.    Collecting a small scraping of soil from a resident’s yard using a trowel
3.     Adding the collected soil to the clean potting soil in the mixing bowl
4.     Very vigorously mixing the two soils
5.    Placing some of the resulting soil mixture into a sample jar
6.    And pouring the remaining soil mixture onto the ground.  Homeowners witnessing this   action called neighborhood representatives and asked them to come out to see for themselves.  The representatives that responded also witnessed these actions.

AMEC employees were seen repeating this process at properties throughout the neighborhood.  Their tampering renders Beazer East’s soil testing inadmissible.   We do not accept Beazer East’s fraudulent test results.  Our families need out of the dioxin, PAH, arsenic contaminated homes that are making us sick.

Willingness to accept counterfeit test results and Beazer East & EPA’s “raw deal” for Gainesville families is inhumane.  Decades of collusion and negligence at every level of government has allowed Gainesville to become a Toxic City.

Susan Fairforest

Unpublished Response to Inaccuracies in 02/06/13 Alligator Article

4 Mar

Because the Koppers article printed in the Florida Independent Alligator on 02/06/13 contained several inaccurate statements, Sandra Watts Kennedy submitted a letter addressing these inaccuracies to the Alligator on 02/18/13.  As of 03/04/13, the Alligator has not printed her letter, so koppersgainesville is posting it here:

Hundreds of afflicted residents are taking Koppers and Beazer East to court with scientific proof that levels of arsenic, dioxins and PAHs inside our homes are drastically higher than ACEPD and GRU staff asserted at Santa Fe College’s recent panel discussion on the Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site.

Dr. Mousa’s memory is creative concerning local government involvement in closing Koppers.  He should review videos from numerous commission meetings showing citizens testifying to illnesses and deaths from Koppers toxic exposure and begging our elected officials to close down the site.   It was only after residents produced documents proving that the City and GRU were among Koppers best customers and therefore abetting Koppers’ ongoing contamination, that we convinced the City to stop doing business with the polluter.  Public outcry ultimately closed the plant.

If water contamination is the primary concern, why does our local government support EPA’s “cleanup plan” that contains no remedial action to stop the downward migration of contamination into the aquifer and continues to compromise our drinking water?

Stephen Foster Elementary School is not “several miles north” of the toxic site: it is only 1/3 mile away from the Site, and yes, our children there are at risk.

Regarding the related art show, families of Koppers victims are offended by the lavishing of grants for greenwashing projects when there is so much pain and suffering in our community.  A better use of these funds would be to move the most severely afflicted residents out of harm’s way.