Human Health Exposure Analysis

Human health is the product of both genetic susceptibility and environmental exposure, but many human health studies have not considered the full array of environmental exposures that may affect an individual’s health and well-being. To better understand how environmental exposures may affect health and lead to disease, in 2019, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) established the Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource (HHEAR) program to allow researchers access to the analytical capabilities necessary to accurately measure, record, and analyze environmental exposures.

In 2019 Heather Stapleton was awarded a NIEHS grant that established Duke University as one of the lab hubs to analyze samples for the HHEAR program. Together with co-directors, Associate Professor Lee Ferguson and Professor Heileen Hsu-Kim, Dr. Stapleton initiated the Duke Environmental Analysis Laboratory (DEAL), which provides access to cutting-edge technologies to support targeted and non-targeted analyses of environmental samples.. To provide services for both organic and inorganic contaminants the DEAL will employ the newest approaches for suspect-screening and non-targeted analysis of chemicals using high-resolution mass spectrometry. Sample matrices include water, air, soil, sediment, house dust, hand wipes, and silicone wristbands.

Targeted AnalysesNon-targeted Analyses
Organic chemicals:High resolution MS instrumentation such as:
- Brominated flame retardants- Orbitrap Fusion Lumos LC-MS/MS
- Organophosphate flame retardants- Q-Exactive GC-MS/MS
- PesticidesAdvanced data processing capabilities such as:
- Phenols/parabens- Accurate mass library matching
- Phtalate plasticizers- In-silico MS/MS prediction algorithms
- Poly-and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)- Data science platforms for spectral harmonization and consolidation
Inorganic chemicals:
- Arsenic
- Cadmium
- Lead
- Mercury

HHEAR and the DEAL hub can provide a wide range of services including analysis of environmental and biological samples, statistical and data analysis, and support for feasibility studies. HHEAR is designed to provide researchers access to the full range of environmental exposures assessment services for their NIH-funded epidemiological and clinical health studies.

To learn more about submitting samples to the DEAL hub or for more information about HHEAR eligibility please visit the HHEAR website.

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