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College of Science News

Geosciences professor to serve on EPA advisory panel on lead


Andrew Hunt, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has been invited to serve on a review panel of the Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board.

According to the EPA's website, the panel will "review and provide independent expert advice on EPA's draft technical analyses that will be used to support: (a) Possible revision of existing residential lead-based paint dust hazard standards, (b) the development of lead-based paint dust hazard standards for public and commercial buildings, and (c) the development of lead-safe work practice standards for renovations of public and commercial buildings"

Hunt, who joined the UT Arlington faculty in 2008, has conducted extensive research in environmental health, inhalation toxicology and pediatric asthma. His research addresses problems relating to health and environmental hazards in urban and indoor environments.

"Lead is a neurotoxicant which, if ingested in relatively small quantities by infants, can result in IQ deficits," Hunt said. "Concern about what is an acceptable level of lead on floors has been ongoing for some time. Infants are primarily exposed to lead in the environment while crawling of floors in homes with lead in the floor dust. Infants are exposed to such lead by inadvertently ingesting the lead through hand-to-mouth activity. Studies suggest that small quantities of lead in floor dust can produce significant increases in blood lead levels (the biomarker of exposure).

"Standard review does not occur often, but the increasing weight of evidence suggests that the standard for the amount of lead allowable in dust is excessive. Should a recommendation for the standard to be lowered be implemented, this will have a major impact on what will be an acceptable lead dust level. Having a lower standard will have major economic implications in terms of clean-up." The panel, which consists of 18 members from universities and private laboratories from across the United States, will meet in Washington D.C. in July and conduct a peer review in the fall.

"This is recognition of the high-quality research being done here at UT Arlington," College of Science Dean Pamela Jansma said. "Dr. Hunt's appointment to this panel is fitting acknowledgement of his leading role in this field of research. He has dedicated much of his career to studying this issue and will be a valuable voice as this process moves forward."

Hunt received a bachelor's degree in earth science and a Ph.D. in Hunt aerosol science from the University of Liverpool in Liverpool, UK. Following four years of postdoctoral research in geology at the University of London, he accepted a position as a research assistant professor in 1990 in the Department of Pathology at the State University of New York's Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. He worked as an adjunct assistant professor in Environmental Studies at SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry from 1995-98, and then was both a research associate professor and associate director of Environmental and Occupational Pathology at SUNY Upstate Medical University from 1998-2004. He then joined a private environmental consulting firm from 2004-08, before joining UT Arlington's faculty.

For the past 25 years, Hunt's research has addressed problems relating to health and environmental hazards in urban and indoor environments. He has been involved in a number of studies concerned with characterizing and apportioning the sources of lead in indoor dust, and with mapping the distribution of lead in dust across urban environments. His work has received funding from the U.K. Department of the Environment, the EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Science Foundation.

His work has also repeatedly focused on lead contamination of urban soil. Hunt has also published in the areas of lung disease associated with inhaled particles, and pediatric asthma in relation to environmental exposures. He has served on various committees and panels, including the executive board of the Society for Environmental Geochemistry and Health, and he is also the immediate past president of the Society for Environmental Geochemistry and Health.