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Partnerships For The Common Good
Our commitment to improve and protect human health and the environment is demonstrated through partnerships we have formed to offer scientific counsel on projects that work toward the common good.
Teaming with the Humane Society to Implement the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) with a Focus on Animal Welfare ObjectivesFull Description
Gradient is pleased to be working alongside the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to evaluate US EPA's proposed approaches to implementing the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, also known as "the TSCA reform." The legislation, which passed in June 2016, has changed how new and existing chemicals are regulated in the US and has significant implications for how animal tests will be used to support US EPA's new responsibility to affirm chemical safety.
Because the specifics of the reform's implementation are still under development and subject to public input, Gradient is working with the HSUS to provide oral and written comments on the TSCA reform to US EPA. Our focus is on developing a chemical evaluation process that addresses the need for a more rigorous and transparent approach while limiting the use of animal testing to characterize chemical toxicity. Consistent with US EPA's requirement to "reduce and replace" vertebrate animal testing, Gradient and the HSUS are jointly working to provide recommendations on hazard evaluation strategies that emphasize fully leveraging existing toxicity and exposure data, utilize robust "read-across" approaches that identify chemically similar substances, consider high-throughput screening and quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) data, and preferentially use studies that employ in vitro test methods.
We anticipate that such strategies will not only meet the TSCA reform's objectives, but will also advance innovations in toxicological analysis that are more time- and cost-effective than animal studies.
Link to more information from HSUS on Animals in Laboratories.
Link to more information from HSUS on The Human Toxicology Project Consortium.
Teaming with the Mystic River Watershed Association and the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences to Restore The Malden RiverFull Description
Gradient is collaborating with the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) and the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences (MIT CEHS) to perform a risk assessment examining the potential health impacts to humans who may come into contact with legacy and modern-day contaminants while boating in the Malden River.
During the mid-1800s to early 1900s, numerous industries operating along the Malden River relied on the river for transportation, water supply, and waste disposal. Following World War II, many of these operations closed or moved to other locations, but the manufacturing sites and river sediments were contaminated with residual hazardous materials. Additionally, historical and current urban stormwater runoff, and possibly other discharges, have contributed and continue to contribute contaminants to the river. A recent desire to increase public access to the Malden River area for recreational purposes, including both activities along the banks and on the water, has raised interest in clarifying the uncertainty about the potential health impacts of increased contact with water and sediments in and around the river.
To help clarify water and sediment contact related health risks, Gradient is assessing available data and identifying data gaps that need to be filled to perform a comprehensive risk assessment. Gradient will be assisting MIT with the development of a sampling protocol for future sediment sampling. Using procedures consistent with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and US EPA guidelines, this assessment will quantify potential risks associated with boaters' exposure to river contaminants. The results of the risk assessment will inform Gradient's recommendations of safe practices for boating activities and help determine whether further assessment or remediation is needed.
Collaborating with Engineers from Arup to Determine Water Filter Parameters and other Design Parameters that are Health Protective of Swimmers in the Filtered East River Water Used to Fill the Floating + POOLFull Description
+ POOL is a "plus-shaped, water-filtering, floating swimming pool" planned for development in New York City's East River. The floating swimming pool is planned to be filled with filtered water drawn from the East River, and also to return water back to the river after use. Advanced filters will treat the water as it enters and exits the pool, ensuring water safety and quality without chemical treatment. Given this complex design and the potential for bacterial contamination resulting from swimmers using the pool, + POOL called upon Gradient to evaluate the quality of the water to aid in identifying successful design strategies that reduce risk of waterborne illness.
Gradient used predictive modeling software from United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to model potential enterococci contamination in the various sections of the + POOL. The results of Gradient's modeling are being used to adjust the design parameters (including water filtration flow rate and water turnover in the pool, hours of operation, and swimmer capacity) to ensure that the water quality in the + Pool is consistent with state and local regulations for the protection of swimmers.
The + POOL mission is to "reclaim the river as a recreational resource for the City, while educating the public about issues affecting our water quality." Gradient is pleased to be working alongside the +Pool and Arup teams on this innovative (and fun), water-filtering, floating swimming pool.