The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Superfund Research Program (UAB-SRP) will address
environmental airborne pollution with heavy metals, and its impact on respiratory health and environmental
degradation. The 35th Avenue, North Birmingham superfund site has been proposed by the EPA to be put on
the national priorities list. It is located in the heart of downtown Birmingham, Alabama. The Contaminants of
Potential Concern, identified by the EPA include cadmium, arsenic and manganese which will be studied in the
UAB-SRP. The site is home to nearly 20,000 people and is in close proximity to coke furnaces, steel mills and
other industry. The population is predominantly African American; who recall their recent civil rights struggles in
Birmingham, AL and request environmental equity as well as answers to their concerns about their respiratory
health. The prevalence of chronic lung diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD),
Asthma in children and Lower Respiratory Tract Infections (LRTI) is significantly higher in the Affected Area
compared to the neighboring Control Area irrespective of smoking, socioeconomic status or demographics. The
EPA is in the process of remediating the area, removing soil form several homes since they are recognized to
have high arsenic levels. The UAB SRP consists of three biomedical projects and two environmental/
engineering projects that will focus on both human lung health and the health of the environment. All biomedical
projects involve direct study of subjects from the Affected Area with a focus on COPD, Asthma and LRTI. The
environmental projects include the development and use of an “optical nose” to measure toxicants in the field.
Remediation by the use of Nano-Micro hybrid fibrous material for contaminant removal will be studied.
Transparent, bidirectional communication with the community is fostered through the community engagement
and Administrative/Research Translation cores. This innovative, problem based, solution oriented UAB-SRP will
provide a deeper understanding of the health of the environment and directly impact the lung health of the
residents of Birmingham, Alabama.