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Researcher Awarded $1.5 Million to Examine Impact of Pollutants on Aging Population

Fitzgerald's study will focus on learning and memory, as well as other motor functions, and will examine change over time.

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 18, 2014) -- Edward H. Fitzgerald, a University at Albany School of Public Health researcher, has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to study if exposure to organic pollutants (POPs) impacts neuropsychological function in older men and women.

The professor of environmental health sciences’ study will focus on learning and memory, as well as other cognitive domains and motor functions, and will examine change over time.

UAlbany Professor Edward Fitzgerald
UAlbany Professor
Edward Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald, who serves as the School of Public Health’s associate dean for research, will build upon an earlier cross-sectional study of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) among older residents of upper Hudson River communities in New York from 2000 to 2002. Participants from the initial study, which Fitzgerald led, will be invited to participate in the new study.

The purpose of the study is to determine whether neurotoxicants may exacerbate age-related nervous system deficits. The study will provide data on how exposure to POPs may contribute to the age-related declines in cognitive and motor function.

"The study is significant because it will fundamentally advance our knowledge of how exposure to POPs typical of the general population may contribute to the age-related declines in cognitive and motor function," said Fitzgerald. "This is an important public health concern, given the aging of the American population and the ubiquitous of these exposures. The proposed project will significantly move the field forward, ascertain potentially modifiable risk factors, and identify high risk populations."

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