Project CAESARR: Toxic Exposures in the Anacostia River

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For more information on this project, check out our article in the  Fall ‘14 issue of Sustainable UMD Magazine .

For more information on this project, check out our article in the Fall ‘14 issue of Sustainable UMD Magazine.

The Anacostia River has a history of contamination due to runoff from local roadways and legacy pollution sites such as the Pepco Benning power plant, Navy Shipyard, and Kenilworth landfill.  The Community-Based Assessment of Exposure to Substances in the Anacostia River Region (CAESARR) sought to understand exposure and health risks for urban fishers in the Anacostia River Watershed region. Very little research has been done to understand actual exposure of urban fishers particularly subsistence fishers to chemical and microbial contaminants in the Anacostia River.

A large body of research and monitoring reveals that the Anacostia River is contaminated with PCBs, metals, pesticides, PAHs, sediment, and fecal microbes due to stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflows. However, limited work has been performed in the region to assess human exposure particularly through the use of biomarkers and health risks using an epidemiologic design.

Project CAESARR was developed to fill this gap. Partnering with Anacostia Watershed Society and the Anacostia Community Museum, the team engaged local fishers to collect information about their exposure through surveys and collecting samples of fish tissue for analysis. This work was funded by the Smithsonian-UMD seed grant program and Maryland Sea Grant program.

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