Studying Superfunds: Duke Environmental Engineers Investigate How Super-Polluted Areas Affect Early Human Health

July 20, 2017

From 1926 to 1992, the waterfront of Portsmouth, Virginia, was home to a wood-treating facility that used various chemicals to preserve and protect lumber from decay and insects. But the chemicals from this facility––and the waste it produced––began to seep into the surrounding land and water, eventually reaching the nearby Elizabeth River. Recognizing the high level of pollution, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed the area as a Superfund site––a designation given to polluted areas across the US that pose a threat to environmental and human health.

Today, researchers at Duke University are using this site, and others like it, to study how the contaminants from Superfund sites affect human health––and how we may be able to efficiently clean them up.