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A cross-divisional department spanning

Research Areas

Consumer Product Safety


Thousands of chemicals are approved for use in U.S. consumer products but few have been tested for safety. Many every day consumer products, such as cosmetics, furniture, toys, and food packaging, contain chemicals with unknown toxicity. Biomonitoring of consumer product chemicals demonstrates widespread exposures in the United States. Yet, little is known about the health impacts of these chemicals. Of particular concern are exposures to pregnant women, infants, and children and the potential for early life chemical exposures to increase susceptibility to chronic health problems such as obesity.

In the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, our research focuses on characterizing chemical exposures and health consequences to inform consumer product policies that protect human health for generations.

Research Highlight

Prenatal Phthalate Exposures Associated with Altered Risk of Childhood Obesity

Emerging evidence suggests that early life chemical exposures may play a role in the childhood obesity epidemic. Our study investigated the link between prenatal phthalate exposures and body mass index among 4-7 year old children by pooling data from three prospective birth cohorts. Phthalates are suspected obesogens with ubiquitous human exposures arising from contact with consumer products such as building materials, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, toys, food packaging, cosmetics, and fragrances. Research found that higher prenatal concentrations of mono-3-carboxypropyl phthalate were associated with increased risk of being overweight or obese in early childhood, whereas metabolites of two other phthalates were associated with lower body mass index in girls. Our study suggests that in utero phthalate exposures may permanently alter the metabolism of the developing fetus leading to changes in fat accumulation during early childhood.

Associated Faculty

Jessie Buckley, PhD*

Dr. Buckley's research is grounded in the developmental origins of health and disease framework and focuses on determining effects of early life exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. She is actively engaged in evaluating the environmental obesogen hypothesis, which posits that chemical exposures during critical developmental windows can result in permanent changes that predispose individuals toward obesity.


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Joseph Bressler, PhD*

Bressler's laboratory has been identifying transporters that mediate the uptake of toxicants through the intestine and into the brain, and examining the effect of toxicants on the regulation of apoptosis.


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Paul Locke, JD, DrPH

An environmental health scientist and attorney, Locke's research and practice target the intersection of environmental health sciences, policy and law in the areas of radiation policy and law and toxicity testing. His areas of study include alternatives to animals in biomedical testing and toxicology, radon risk science and policy, radiation risk analysis, uranium mining, high-level radioactive waste disposal and the application of low dose radiobiology to policy making.


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Kirsten Koehler, PhD*

Koehler is interested in developing novel aerosol samplers to improve the relationship between exposures and health effects. She has investigated two novel, low-cost aerosol samplers in the laboratory.


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Keeve Nachman, PhD*

Nachman's research focuses on the human health risks posed by drugs used in food animals. His publications include studies of antibiotic use in food animals and the development of antibiotic resistance, the use of arsenicals in poultry production, and environmental health policy and decision-making.


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Gurumurthy "Ram" Ramachandran, PhD, CIH*

Ramachandran has conducted research in various areas relating to human exposure assessment in occupational and non-occupational settings. His research has included the development of robust occupational exposure assessment strategies for a variety of airborne contaminants.


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Lesliam Quirós-Alcalá, PhD*

Lesliam's research focuses on characterizing environmental exposures to endocrine disrupting agents and examining their potential health effects on highly vulnerable, low-income and minority populations underrepresented and understudied in public health research, including occupational populations, pregnant women and women of reproductive age, and children.


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*Denotes faculty who are accepting PhD students.