Rachel Kulchar ’23

Major

Chemistry

Project Title

Predicting Exposure of Children to Environmental Pollutants Using Their Deciduous Teeth

Presentation Link

View Rachel 's Presentation

Certificate(s): Global Health and Health Policy, Materials Science and Engineering

The premise of this internship is that human exposure to the environmental milieu is a key factor in brain development. Because human brain development is more than 80% complete by the age of 3, assessing children’s exposure to environmental toxins in their early years is central to understanding the neurological development of children living in regions where water is highly polluted. While blood analysis has been used to assess a child’s recent exposure to toxins, deciduous teeth (baby teeth) can indicate long-term exposure levels. Organic contaminants such as insecticides and antibiotics can become part of the tooth’s dentin and remain in the intergranular spaces of apatite, which is the primary component of tooth enamel and bone mineral. Slow and long-term exposure to low levels of water contamination is more common in the world, and this study can provide valuable clues where commonly used blood analysis fails.



Internship Year

2021

Project Category

Food Systems, Water And Human Health

Organization(s)

Molecular Environmental Geochemistry Group, Department of Geosciences, Princeton University

Mentor(s)

Satish Myneni, Professor of Geosciences