University of Washington Superfund Research Program Director, Evan Gallagher, was interviewed on two separate occasions in August by King 5 News about work done in his lab demonstrating that exposure to contaminants can lead to loss of olfaction in fish. The first piece aired on August 8th, 2018, as part of a story about the effects of ocean acidification on salmon's sense of smell. The second piece aired on August 16th and included footage of Gallagher’s postdoctoral trainee, Margaret Mills, demonstrating a novel olfactory behavioral assay developed in the Gallagher zebrafish lab.
The Gallagher lab leads UW SRP Project 1 to explore the mechanisms by which exposure to low levels of Superfund chemicals like cadmium cause neurobehavioral damage to salmon. One effect of cadmium exposure is a reduction in salmon’s sense of smell that can impair behaviors that are critical to survival, like returning to spawning grounds, feeding, and avoiding predators. The Gallagher lab also uses zebrafish in controlled laboratory experiments to understand the cellular processes that underlie neurological damage as well as recovery from olfactory injury following metal exposure. Ultimately, the project aims to develop biomarkers that can be used to monitor the health of salmon and other fish at Superfund sites, and to effectively evaluate remediation outcomes.