Risk assessment and management of toxic pollutants

This body of research drew on the methods of natural sciences to understand the impacts of exposures to toxic pollutants on human health. At New York University, Columbia University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology I worked as a laboratory scientist in the field of chemical carcinogenesis, studying the binding of carcinogenic compounds to DNA. In the position of the Director of the Office of Research and Standards at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, DEP, I lead the development of new methods for evaluating environmental toxins for carcinogenic, reproductive, mutagenic and systemically toxic effects. We then applied these methods to develop guidelines for air concentrations of toxic pollutants necessary to protect human health. This Massachusetts Air Toxics Program to this day continues to be the basis for regulating toxic air pollutants in Massachusetts.

In a highly cited 1984 article in the American Journal of Public Health I was one of the first scientists to draw attention to skin absorption as a significant route of entry of water contaminants into the body. During the first few years following this publication the US Environmental Protection Agency incorporated dermal route of exposure into its risk assessment methodologies. I also developed dynamic pharmacokinetic models for skin absorption of environmental toxicants.

In collaboration with Robert Goble at Clark University I conducted an epidemiological study in Poland to test the widely held belief that air pollution in Poland was the key factor in explaining the observed high rates of lung cancer mortality (I falsified this hypothesis).

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