CSS Pathways News March 2017: Anticipating Impacts of Chemicals

pathways banner

Chemical Safety for Sustainability Research News

CSS Pathways: Anticipating Impacts of Chemicals

March 2017

CSS Highlights


 Just how do they survive in that water!?

Water quality in urban areas can sometimes be adversely impacted by human activity. When streams are impacted, what happens to the fish? In the case of the Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus), CSS scientists found that over just a few decades, distinct populations of the fish independently developed similar genetic adaptations that make life possible in the most unlikely environments. Understanding how certain species can adapt and why others can’t will help us understand the long term impacts of pollution on biodiversity. Read more about how CSS scientists studied killifish that have developed traits to tolerate toxic pollutants in their habitat in these high impact publications in Molecular Ecology and Science. CBC Radio even picked up on these studies here!


Evaluating Developmental Neurotoxicity Hazard: Better than Before 

CSS scientists are conducting groundbreaking research that will help evaluate chemical hazards better, faster and cheaper. To do this, CSS scientists grew neural networks in their laboratory that show the promise of helping to screen thousands of chemicals in the environment that are yet to be characterized for developmental neurotoxicity hazard through traditional methods. Read more about the innovative research in an Editor’s Highlight in Toxicological Sciences.


Finding Known Unknowns: EPA's CompTox Chemistry Dashboard is Best!

A known unknown is a chemical that we know exists in the environment but doesn’t have information readily available (unknown) on its impacts to human health and the environment. However, sometimes we actually DO have information on a chemical… it is just hard to find.  CSS scientists are reducing the uncertainty about these oxymoronic chemicals by providing tools to quickly search public databases and determine the likelihood that the chemical is among the knowns.  The U.S. EPA’s CompTox Chemistry Dashboard and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s ChemSpider are both capable of this type of search and can rank-order hits based on relevant chemical criteria. Read how the EPA’s Dashboard offered an advantage over ChemSpider to search for hard to identify chemicals using data source ranking. You can even check it out on your iPad or iPhone!  

NPD Corner

There have been a few personnel changes at the helm of the CSS Program. In early January, Tina Bahadori was appointed as Director of ORD’s National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA).  At the same time, Dr. Jeffrey Frithsen was appointed as the interim National Program Director for CSS. Previously, Jeff was the Associate Director for Ecology and Special Projects Coordinator within NCEA. Although new to the CSS team, Jeff has over 30 years’ experience in the environmental sciences arena, spanning both ecological and human health topics. Much of that work has focused on assessment related activities that directly inform environmental management decisions.

CSS welcomes back Dr. Elaine Cohen-Hubal as the Deputy National Program Director. John Cowden, who acted in that position for the past year, returns to his full-time position as the CSS Matrix Interface lead for ORD’s National Center for Computational Toxicology (NCCT).

The CSS team is focused on advancing the science of chemical assessment providing the information needed to inform decisions made by the Agency, our state co-regulators, and other stakeholders.

Upcoming & Recent Events


Society of Toxicology (SOT): March 11-16, 2017

CSS scientists will showcase their research at the SOT 56th Annual Meeting in Baltimore.

U.S. EPA will host several special events in conjunction with SOT, including a joint-meeting of CSS researchers and Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grantees to discuss organotypic and three-dimensional cell culture systems on March 11th.

Visit our exhibit booth for informative research factsheets and live demonstrations of some of CSS web-based tools including CompTox Dashboard, RapidTox, AOP Wiki, EcoTox, and Seqapass. A concise schedule can be found on the EPA website.

CSS Scientists Honored at SOT Annual Meeting

Congratulations to our CSS scientists who are being honored with awards including John Wambaugh (Biological Modeling Specialty Section Best Paper), Will Boyes (Career Achievement Award), and Jeremy Leonard (Trainee Award).

CSS posters also received recognition from the Risk Assessment Specialty Section (listed below). Information about the SOT Annual Meeting and conference materials are available on the SOT conference webpage.

  • Cross-Species Integration of Human Health and Ecological Endpoints Using the Aggregate Exposure Pathway (AEP) and Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) Frameworks to Advance Risk Assessment. D.E. Hines, S.W. Edwards, R.B. Conolly, and A.M. Jarabek.
  • Developing a Rich Definition of the Person/ Residence to Support Models of Consumer Product Usage. P.S. Price, K.L. Dionisio, H. Hubbard, and G. Graham
  • Application of Quantitative Adverse Outcome Pathways to Rapid Screening for Adverse Outcome. R.B. Conolly, G.T. Ankley, W. Cheng, M. Mayo, D.H. Miller, E.J. Perkins, D.L. Villeneuve, and K.H. Watanabe. 


Global Chemical Regulations Conference: February 22 – 24, 2017

EPA scientists recently presented at the 2017 Global Chemical Regulations Conference in Washington, DC. The focus of the conference was Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Nation’s primary chemicals management law. Russell Thomas, Director of EPA’s National Center for Computational Toxicology (NCCT), and CSS scientists, including Grace Patlewicz, are leading innovative research to help evaluate existing chemicals and enable safer and more sustainable use of new chemicals. Learn more about EPA’s Computational Toxicology Research.

CSS in the News

EPA has been developing new computational toxicology methods to prioritize chemicals for testing. One example of this effort is the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program in the 21st century (EDSP21) which uses the latest computational toxicology methods to evaluate chemicals for potential endocrine disruption.  Read a blog about recent CSS research in this area focused on evaluating chemicals for thyroid disruption.