Impact of Airborne Heavy Metals on Lung Disease and the Environment
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund site is located in the heart of downtown Birmingham, Alabama. The contaminants of potential concern identified by the EPA in this area include cadmium, arsenic, and manganese, which are being studied in the UAB Superfund Research Center (SRC). The prevalence of chronic lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma in children, and lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) is significantly higher in the affected area compared to the neighboring control area irrespective of smoking, socioeconomic status, or demographics. The EPA is in the process of remediating the area, removing soil with high arsenic levels from several homes. The site is home to nearly 20,000 people who have felt the impact of the Greater Birmingham Area’s legacy of pollution. UT FCMF (Vaidya and team) is involved with two aspects of the SRC – (a) development of cost-effective carbon and hybrid fiber non-woven mats for soil remediation, and (b) development of biodegradable, reuseable N95 equivalent masks that offer protection from fine particles. Dr. Uday Vaidya is the recipient of a recent supplemental award to the UAB Superfund Center grant.
For additional information about the UAB SRC, please click UAB SRC