The NIEHS Superfund Research Program was conceived to address the scarcity of information about the health effects of low-level, continuous exposures to toxic chemicals. In 1987, scientists all over the country were funded to investigate how common chemicals like benzene and styrene in air, water, and soil could lead to devastating afflictions like cancer and birth defects.
UC Berkeley has been involved in the NIEHS Superfund Research Program since its inception. In 1987, Dr. Martyn T. Smith, Professor of Toxicology in the School of Public Health, assembled a distinguished research team to study the fundamental relationships between exposure to chemicals and human illness and to apply discoveries to develop methods of remediating contaminants in air, water, and soil. The current program continues this endeavor by bringing together experts in the fields of engineering, chemistry, and molecular epidemiology from UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. These investigators lead six research projects and five support cores.