Mission

Carcinogenic contaminants threaten the health of people living in the Mystic River Watershed (near the Olin, Industriplex and Wells G&H Superfund sites) and members of Native American Tribes living near the Loring Airforce Base Superfund sites in Maine.

The MIT SRP enables development and application of novel technologies to detect and map contaminants, and to reveal their biological effects. Through engagement with local, state and US agencies, and through training of the next generation of scientists, the MIT SRP maximizes its impact on human health.

The MIT SRP is committed to engagement with communities in the Mystic River Watershed and with Native American Tribes in Maine, and to research that will guide critical remediation strategies to prevent cancer, and toward knowledge that will propel prevention, mitigation and treatment of disease.

Dr. Kathy Vandiver and Marvin Cling discussing environmental contaminants.  Kathy Vandiver is the Director of the Community Engagement Core. Marvin Cling oversees the budgetary, organizational and developmental activities of the environmental department  of the Passamaaquoddy and supervises specific program managers, specialists, and technicians to monitor the Tribal lands, waters, and airshed. 

Program Abstract:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Superfund Research Program (MIT SRP) brings engineering and scientific innovation to bear on critical problems relevant to stakeholders in Maine and Massachusetts. Their problem-oriented program centers around two pervasive contaminants, N-nitrosamines (potently carcinogenic to animals) and PAHs (carcinogenic to people). Both these contaminants are present in multiple Superfund Sites and they continue to be produced by ongoing industrial activities today. Native Americans in Maine and people living in the Mystic River Watershed in Massachusetts have expressed serious concerns about contaminants in their environments. In both locations, people are negatively impacted by legacy contaminants, and in both cases, there are Environmental Justice communities of concern. To address their concerns, the MIT SRP aims to develop novel sensors and engineering tools to predict the distribution and composition of pollutants. This work will guide decision making regarding safety and remediation. By also studying cellular and physiological responses (in terms of cell signaling, mutations, and cancer), the team will help to reveal what makes some people more susceptible to cancer than others, and will develop tools to predict and mitigate disease. The bi-directional program is based on established relationships with stakeholders. The team continues to grow relationships with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the NIEHS, and Tribal Leaders. Embedded in all of the MIT SRP activities are training opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs, thus supporting the next generation. Taken together, the MIT SRP enables risk reduction, guidance for remediation, and support for policy decisions, thus having a direct and measurable impact on public health.