Paloma Beamer

Dust Particles Are Probably Quite Toxic

News Date: 
September 28, 2016 :00am

Dust Is More Than Dirt

"Water Is Our Life": How a Mining Disaster Affected the Navajo Nation

News Date: 
May 16, 2016 :00am

(Truthout) In the midst of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, it is not surprising that the World Health Organization recently released a report documenting that the environment is responsible for almost a quarter of deaths and disease in the world.

But this news to the Diné (Navajo) people, who believe that all parts of nature -- the water, fish, trees, and stars -- are equal members of society and are so intricately connected that an imbalance in one member may impact another.

Toxic-Spill Researchers Win $600K Haury Challenge Grant

News Date: 
April 20, 2016 :00am

(UA News)--A team of researchers investigating the effects of last year's Gold King Mine toxic spill on the Navajo community has won the first $600,000 challenge grant awarded by the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona.

UA Researchers to Study Environmental Effects on Navajo Lands a Year After Gold King Mine Spill

News Date: 
March 24, 2016 :00am

(UA College of Public Health) -- The University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and UA Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science received a $434,000 grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to investigate the effects of the Gold King Mine spill on Navajo lands.

Understanding the Gold King Mine Spill

News Date: 
August 26, 2015 :00am

On Wednesday August 5, 2015, during an EPA mine site investigation of the Gold King Mine near Silverton, CO, heavy equipment disturbed loose material around a soil “plug” at the mine entrance. Apparently, acid mine drainage had built up behind the plug, which unexpectedly gave way due to the weight of the water pressure in the tunnel, and a torrent of water gushed out of the tunnel. To read more ....

Development of land use regression models for estimating retrospective and prospective air pollution exposure in Tucson




Amount of funding received:



Low-Cost Air Sampling Method for Arsenic Exposure

Relevance to Swehsc : 

Use of dust fall filters as passive samplers for metal concentrations in air for communities near contaminated mine tailings.

Cluster of Efforts: 

Mine tailings are a source of metal exposures in many rural communities. Multiple air samples are necessary to assess the extent of exposures and factors contributing to these exposures. However, air sampling equipment is costly and requires trained personnel to obtain measurements, limiting the number of samples that can be collected. Simple, low-cost methods are needed to allow for increased sample collection. The objective of our study was to assess if dust fall filters can serve as passive air samplers and be used to characterize potential exposures in a community near contaminated mine tailings. We placed filters in cylinders, concurrently with active indoor air samplers, in 10 occupied homes. We calculated an estimated flow rate by dividing the mass on each dust fall filter by the bulk air concentration and the sampling duration. The mean estimated flow rate for dust fall filters was significantly different during sampling periods with precipitation. The estimated flow rate was used to estimate metal concentration in the air of these homes, as well as in 31 additional homes in another rural community impacted by contaminated mine tailings. The estimated air concentrations had a significant linear association with the measured air concentrations for beryllium, manganese and arsenic (p < 0.05), whose primary source in indoor air is resuspended soil from outdoors. In the second rural community, our estimated metal concentrations in air were comparable to active air sampling measurements taken previously. This passive air sampler is a simple low-cost method to assess potential exposures near contaminated mining sites.



Exposure Assessment

Relevance to Swehsc : 

Accurarate determination of the sources and levels of exposure to environmental toxicants is essential to understanding the relationship between exposure and adverse health outcomes.

Cluster of Efforts: 


  • Paloma Beamer, PhD
  • Jefferey Burgess, MD, MPH
  • Margaret Kurzius-Spencer, PhD
  • Fernando Martinez, MD
  • Mary Kay O'Rourke, PhD


  • Analysis of dust fall down wind of a legacy mine site show that it is an excelent, low cost alternative for assessing dust related exposures. (Beamer)
  • Majority of inorganic and total arsenic exposure is attributable to diet in subjects with tap water arsenic <MCL. (Burgess, Kurzius-Spencer, O'Rourke)
  • Acute exposure to arsenic through ingestion of arsenic containg foods results in increased serum MMP-9 expression. (Burgess, Kurzius-Spencer, O'Rourke)
  • Wheezing lower respiratory infections were associated with increased air polution. (Beamer, Martinez)
  • CCSP levels are significantly decreased in children exposed to higher levels of diesel traffic-related air pollution. (Beamer, Chen)

Exposure modeling by proximity to pollution sources and respiratory outcome

Relevance to Swehsc : 

Characterization of the environmental exposures that worsen outcome in asthmatic children is critical to developing strategies to mitigate this pediatric disease that is reaching epidemic proportions. Understanding the flux of toxicant-contaminated particulates between outdoor sources and the home will be critical to developing accurate exposure estimates in epidemiological studies.

Cluster of Efforts: 
Investigators/Funding: Beamer (RFG2), Martinez (RFG1, IHSFC), Klimecki (RFG1, IHFSC), Billheimer (IHSFC-Biostats) SWEHSC Pilot Project Funding to Dr. Beamer, Superfund Pilot Project Funding to Dr. Beamer
Beamer Paloma          Walt Klimecki
  • SWEHSC Pilot Project will assess pulmonary health risks in children living near major traffic pollution producers (e.g. highways) using data from the Tucson Children's Respiratory Study (CRS) to model exposures to air pollutants. The CRS is a comprehensive prospective study of asthma and allergy outcomes from birth to (currently) age 30.
  • Analysis of study data demonstrates that children with an increased estimated diesel particulate exposure at their birth address have an increased incidence of lower respiratory tract illness (OR=1.5, CI=1.1-2.0) and of lower respiratory tract illness with wheeze (OR=1.7, CI=1.2-2.4) during the first 3 years of life.
  • Children with these higher diesel particulate matter exposures were also more likely to be classified as early wheezers compared to children who never wheezed (OR 3.2, CI=1.9-5.4).
  • Dr. Beamer has used the data from her SWEHSC Pilot Project to prepare a K25 award application, which recently received an outstanding Impact/Priority score of 19.
  • Superfund Pilot Project developed a modeling and measurement framework for assessing transport of contaminated soils and airborne particulates into a residence, their subsequent distribution indoors via resuspension and deposition processes, and removal by cleaning and building exhalation of suspended particles.
  • This data has been recently published (Layton and Beamer, 2009) and was the subject of a National Public Radio interview with Dr. Beamer, and recently featured in Time Magazine,8599,1966870,00.html.


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