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Capsules of Chemicals

Going forward, Stacey Harper says, zeroing in on the toxic impacts of using capsules and other “carriers” for chemicals will be critical to making sure current environmental protections are adequate.

Microcosms for Nano

Many of the products we buy — sunscreen, stain- and odor-resistant clothing, fuel additives, sports equipment — contain nanoparticles that have been designed for a purpose. These materials (about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair) can block sunlight, prevent microbial growth, lubricate surfaces and confer tensile strength.

From Zebrafish to You

On average, an individual encounters about 80,000 synthetic chemicals every day. So says Robert Tanguay, a toxicologist at Oregon State University. Many of those chemicals — from fire retardants in fabrics to drying agents in paint — are untested for toxicity to people. Tanguay and his research team are working to change that. Their results are helping those who make the products we use as well as those who use them.

After the Spill

Composed of more than 100 different compounds, PAHs are part of fossil fuels and a product of combustion. Some cause cancer, birth defects and other health problems. To understand these chemicals, Sarah Allan melds her biology background with the growing cache of analytical chemistry skills that she is developing in Kim Anderson’s lab.

Regulating Immunity: Toxicologists seek novel gene therapies

Dioxin, the chemical pollutant made infamous by Vietnam-era defoliant Agent Orange, has long been known to suppress immune function in humans and other animals. Surprisingly, this dangerous side effect has a scientific silver lining. While studying the toxin’s health effects, researchers discovered the genetic pathway to immune system malfunction. For people who would actually benefit from suppressed immunity — those suffering from autoimmune and allergic diseases — this clue may lead to better therapies.

Living Downwind

By collecting and testing the toxicity of particles in Northwest air samples, OSU Ph.D. student Julie Layshock is shedding light on the relative health threat posed by long-distance air pollution.