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From the Chancellor


UMLJUR is published by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research University of Massachusetts Lowell


Martin T. Meehan


Ahmed Adbelal

Vice Provost for Research

People may think “work ready, life ready and world ready” is just UMass Lowell’s slogan. However, I know that when our students graduate – and often well before that – they really are ready for anything. Case in point: this publication. Producing this journal, submitting a paper for the peer-review process and engaging in research – these activities prepare students for the real world. They are immersed in the experiential learning that today’s companies seek. This is the first publication of an undergraduate research journal at UMass Lowell. It is a student-conceived, student-led initiative. This first issue is a small window into all of the impressive research conducted by undergraduates on campus. I congratulate the student editors and leaders who brought this to fruition. I look forward to seeing this journal grow and thrive in the coming years.


Julie Chen

Founders and Chief Editors Robert DeMatteo Denis Jakuj Daniel Warden

Martin T. Meehan Chancellor

Design Editor Raymond Lam

Technical Editor

From the Vice Provost for Research

Brian Gablaski

Dear Readers,

Type Editor

During the summer of 2011, enterprising UMass Lowell students – the editors of this publication – made it their mission to produce an undergraduate research journal. Through persistence and hard work, they made it happen in one academic year. They are remarkable, and I congratulate them. But they are not alone in their pursuit of excellence. So many of us love working at UMass Lowell – teaching in our classrooms and conducting research in our labs – because the students themselves are eager to learn and are determined in their pursuit of knowledge. This journal reflects that approach. These papers were chosen via a peer-review process that included fellow students as well as faculty. The quality of the work is impressive, not just among undergraduates, but within the entire academic community. And the breadth of the topics reflects the range of scholarship pursued on campus. From design of a hybrid race car to assessment of the impact of Lowell’s mobile food pantry program to determining the effectiveness of a non-toxic alternative to home disinfecting cleaners – UMass Lowell’s student research spans the disciplines and helps improve the world.

Mathew Williams

Chief Editors 2013 Nathan Manalo Ankit Patel Sarah Regan

Please direct address changes and comments, including requests for permission to reprint, to : Office of the Vice Provost for Research University of Massachusetts Lowell One University Avenue

As Vice Provost for Research, I applaud all who played a role in making this important contribution to UMass Lowell’s research endeavors. Sincerely,

Julie Chen Vice Provost for Research

Volume 1 No 1

Faculty Reviewers 2012..................................................................................................4 Letter from the Editors...................................................................................................5 Opioid Knowledge in the Greater Lowell Community..............................................6 The Design and Manufacturing Process of a Formula Hybrid SAE Racecar..............................................................................12 Food Security and Customer Satisfaction among Food Pantry Clients in the Greater Lowell Area.......................................................16 MCNP Modeling of the UMass Lowell Research Reactor.......................................24 The Use and Perception of Reproductive Health Services at UMass Lowell................................................................................32 Healthy Homes: A Cross Sectional Study of Asthma...............................................36 Tobacco Related Attitudes and Behaviors among UMass Lowell Employees........41 Lowell Community Food Assesment in the Acre.....................................................46 The Effect of Fabric Softeners on Disinfection by the AVT MondoVap 2400.......................................................................................51 Youth Violence within the Lowell Community.........................................................54 Glycan Profiling of a Fusion Glycoprotein Product ................................................59 Meet the Editors............................................................................................................65 UMLJUR 1

UMLJUR Faculty Reviewers: 2012 Thank you for the support you provide. It is essential to our success as both students and researchers.

Biological Sciences Thomas Shea


Steven Tello


Nancy Deluca* Melisenda Jean McDonald*

Chemical Engineering John White* Seongkyu Yoon Sanjeev Manohar Eric Maase Zhiyong Gu

Civil and Environmental Engineering Edward Hajduk

Clinical Laboratory and Nutritional Sciences Nancy Goodyear* Mindy Dopler Nelson

Community Health and Sustainability Leland Ackerson*

Computer Science Mark Sheldon

Criminal Justice Andrew Harris


Tommaso Tempesti Monica Galizzi

Electrical and Computer Engineering Xuejun Lu Joel Therrien

Exercise Physiology Sean Collins Cynthia Ferrara

Mathematical Sciences James Propp

Mechanical Engineering Christopher Hansen*


Whitley Kaufman


Partha Chowdhury

Plastic Engineering Jan Huang

Political Science

Jenifer Whitten-Woodring


Richard Serna Mary Duell Lauren Beaulieu Alice Frye

* Indicates professors that contributed reviewers to this edition Faculty members interested in reviewing are encouraged to contact:


Dear Readers, Welcome to the inaugural issue of The University of Massachusetts Lowell Journal of Undergraduate Research: the first multidisciplinary undergraduate journal of its kind in the UMass system. We have produced this publication with three goals in mind. We hope that the journal provides an outlet where undergraduate researchers may display their work and gain useful experience in the peer review process. We also feel that there isn’t enough awareness of the quantity and quality of research that is being conducted at the undergraduate level. We hope that this publication will raise awareness in the student body. Finally, we hope to encourage undergraduates to get involved in research by showcasing the diversity and quality of work that is currently being conducted here at UMass Lowell. An undertaking of this size and multidisciplinary nature could not have been accomplished alone, and we would like to thank all of the people here at the University who have made it possible. We would like to thank Chancellor Meehan, Provost Abdelal, and Vice Provost Chen for encouraging our efforts. Adrianna Morris in the office of the Vice Provost for Research has also been instrumental in providing guidance and resources to us that have made this publication possible. We would like to specifically thank Dr. Nancy Goodyear of the Clinical Laboratory and Nutritional Sciences Department for her guidance and advice during the initial formulation of this publication. We also thank the University of Ohio Journal of Undergraduate Research for the use of a modified version of their author agreement and to Jessica Thayer for her logo and cover design. This journal would not have come this far without help from the University’s legal department, Dyan Ciccone, Renae Lias Claffey, the University’s public affairs department, the copy center, and all of the deans, department chairs, faculty members, and students who have been involved in the journal. Finally, we would like to thank the University of Massachusetts Lowell for having a research environment, which is the impetus for this journal. These first submissions to our journal represent a small window into some of the great research which undergraduates are involved in here at the University. We applaud these students for their work, their writing, and for their submission to our journal while still in its infancy. The number of departments, faculty members and students who are involved so far is indicative of our room for growth. We hope that in future years UMLJUR will blossom into a comprehensive publication that represents all of the wonderful accomplishments in research made by our undergraduates. Thank you for your interest in UMLJUR; we know you’ll enjoy it! Sincerely,

Daniel Warden

Denis Jakuj

Robert DeMatteo UMLJUR 3

Opioid Knowledge in the Greater Lowell Community

Stephanie Bates, Anna Crisci, Luz D. Jimenez, Sergio Pernice, Yvette Perron, Stefanie Wong, Leland Ackerson, ScD Department of Community Health and Sustainability Background: In Massachusetts, two people die each day from opioid overdoses. Knowledge about opioid abuse and prevention can be an important way to reduce overdose deaths. Purpose: The objective of this study is to determine the knowledge level of people in the Greater Lowell, Massachusetts area about opioid abuse and whether people understand that prescription opioid abuse can lead to heroin abuse. Method: A cross-sectional, community-based study was conducted by distributing a survey in two different ways, a self-administered paper survey and a self-administered on-line survey. The paper survey was distributed in four locations around Lowell. The online survey was dispersed to members and employees of multiple local businesses and organizations.Results: We received 188 responses. Three quarters of participants are aware that heroin and Oxycontin are opioids. Knowledge of other drugs was much lower. Fewer than half answered correctly regarding prescription painkillers being the most common gateway drug, frequency of opioid overdose, and the purpose of Narcan. Conclusion:Further prevention and education programs are recommended to reduce the prevalence of opioid overdose deaths.

Background The emergence of the abuse of opioid prescription pain medication, such as Vicodin, Percocet, codeine, Oxycodone, and Oxycontin is proving to be a growing problem [1]. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines prescription drug abuse as “the intentional use of a medication without a prescription; in a way other than as prescribed; or for the experience or feeling it causes� [2]. Since these drugs are legal in the United States, albeit in a controlled manner, people have relatively easy access to them, regardless of whether or not a doctor prescribes them to the user. For example, adolescents are often able to get this medication from personal sources, such as friends or relatives [2]. In 2009, approximately 5.3 million people in the United States reported taking prescription pain medication nonmedically [2]. One of the factors contributing to this high prevalence is the misconception that prescription pain relievers are safe [2]. People may not realize that although doctors prescribe this type of prescription drugs, they are in fact opioids. Opi4 UMLJUR

oids are considered narcotics, which are used for pain management, and can be highly addictive [3]. Non-synthetic opioids include Demerol, morphine, methadone, and heroin. Addiction to the prescribed opioid Oxycontin is often followed by the use and addiction to heroin [3]. If abused, both prescribed and non-prescribed opioids can have detrimental effects, such as an accidental overdose. This occurs when a person takes a higher dose of opioids than his or her body can accommodate, causing breathing to slow down and eventually stop; overdoses may be fatal if no action is taken [4]. Increasing availability of prescription pain medication also contributes to the rising prevalence rates. Between 1991 and 2010, prescriptions for opioids in the United States increased from 30 million to 180 million [2]. The high prevalence of opioid abuse may result from the underlying reasons why people abuse drugs. Such reasons may include the desire to get high; to deal with anxiety; or to relieve pain and sleep problems [2]. Over the past decade, accidental overdoses due to prescription pain medication have increased. In Massachusetts alone, two people die

each day from opioid overdoses [5]. In Lowell, Massachusetts (one of the high-incidence communities in MA), 140 opioid-related deaths were reported between 2003 and 2009; of these deaths, 42% occurred in individuals with an occupation related to the trades, and 42% listed prescription pain medication as the cause of death [5]. To address this growing problem, the City of Lowell and the Lowell Health Department in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health have made strong efforts to educate the Lowell community about opioid abuse, particularly focused on prescription pain medication and accidental overdoses [5]. This education has included information about who is most at risk for abusing opioids, where adolescents acquire prescription pain medication, how to recognize an opioid overdose, and how to temporarily reverse an overdose [4,5,6]. Although awareness and education about this growing problem has increased, the Greater Lowell community’s knowledge about opioid abuse is not well known. In order to strengthen educational and intervention programs, as well as to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths, more information is needed to assess the areas that need additional attention. The purpose of this study is to determine the Greater Lowell community’s knowledge about opioid abuse and whether the community understands that opioid prescription medication abuse can lead to heroin abuse.

METHODS Study Design This was a cross-sectional study of opioid knowledge of residents in the Greater Lowell area. Data was collected in two different ways, a selfadministered paper survey and a self-administered on-line survey. The paper survey was distributed in four locations around Lowell: Showcase Cinema, the Senior Center, the Bridge Street Market Basket grocery store, and the downtown section of Lowell. At these locations individuals were approached to provide them with the opportunity to take part in the survey. After providing them with information

about the purpose of the study, the voluntary participants were provided with a paper survey, each questionnaire was put into a box, ensuring the confidentiality and anonymity of each participant. A link to the online survey was distributed via email to the following groups: every employee in the City of Lowell; members of the Public Health Coalition including towns of Chelmsford, Dracut, Tyngsboro, Tewksbury, Billerica and Westborough; members of the Lowell Chamber of Commerce, members of the MassCall2 grant working group which includes employees from several treatment facilities, the Billerica House of Corrections, Middlesex Community College, Trinity Ambulance, the Greater Lowell Health Alliance and both local hospitals; and the members of the University of Massachusetts Lowell Residence Life staff. The online survey was an anonymous self-administered survey containing the same questions as the paper survey. The purpose of using these varied locations was to assess the knowledge of a wide range of people, such as adults of different ages, career position and races/ethnicities. The eligibility criteria included being at least 18 years old and residing in the Greater Lowell Areaand being able to speak and read English. Data was collected from October 21, 2011 to November 8, 2011, at the aforementioned locations. Questionnaire Development The questionnaire was created in collaboration with a health educator from the Lowell Health Department. The survey was designed based on previous surveys and health education campaigns implemented by the health educator. Measures We collected basic demographic information about race/ethnicity, gender, age, whether or not the person worked in a trade, and if so whether they were in a union. The questionnaire consisted of four multiple choice questions measuring community members’ knowledge about opioids. These questions addressed topics including the opioid overdose death frequency in Massachusetts; common places people (especially teens) get unlawful UMLJUR 5

prescription opioids; and the type of drug used to temporarily reverse an opioid overdose. An additional series of six questions asked whether the participant could identify which of the following drugs are considered opioids: heroin, Oxycontin, cocaine, methadone, Valium, and Percocet. The questionnaire is available in Appendix A.

Table 1. Demographics

Data and Human Subject Protection The University of Massachusetts Lowell Institutional Review Board approved of the study as exempt from full review because it was completely voluntary, anonymous, and posed less than minimal risk to the participants. The survey tools omitted any form of indicators that would allow the researchers to identify individual participants. Each participant was provided with information about the study, where people could look for the answers to the questions, and who to contact for more information about the study or opioid abuse in general. Data Analysis We organized the collected data into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and then created graphs based on our analysis of the data to display the proportion of people who answered each question correctly. We also stratified the data by age and investigated the difference in proportions of younger and older respondents using a Fisher’s exact test.

RESULTS By conducting both online surveys and paper surveys, we received 188 responses (Table 1). Approximately 45% of the participants identified themselves as male and 55% were female. Additionally, in self-reporting race/ethnicity, 81.9% described themselves as white, 1.1% were black, 3.3 % were Asian, 7.1% were Hispanic/Latino, 1.6% American Indian, and 2.7% were Multiracial. Regarding age, 15.5 % of the participants were 18-24 years old, 16.1% were 25-34 years old, 14.4% were 35-44 years old, 19.5% were 45-54 years old, 14.4% were 55-64 years old, 20.1% were 65 and older. Twelve participants said they work in a trade, and 9 of these participants reported being in a union. 6 UMLJUR

Three quarters of participants correctly identified heroin and Oxytocin as opiates (Table 2). Knowledge of other drugs was much lower. Fewer than half the participants correctly stated the frequency of opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts with the remainder of participants stating that they thought it was less frequent than two per day, or that they did not know. A minority of participants identified the purpose of Narcan being to temporarily reverse an opioid overdose. The majority of respondents could not identify prescription painkillers as the most common gateway drug leading to heroin addiction. More than half of the participants, however, did understand that the most common place for minors to acquire prescription medication for recreational use was from the medicine cabinet of friends or family members. Those aged 18-54 had a better understanding of opioids compared to those aged 55 and older (Table 1). The younger group was more likely than

the older group to properly identify heroin (p = 0.005), and methadone (p = 0.005) as opioids, and to properly identify cocaine as a non-opioid (p = 0.01). Compared to older respondents, younger respondents were also more likely to identify unauthorized prescription painkillers as the substance most likely to lead to heroin addiction (p = 0.01), and to identify medicine cabinets of relatives or friends as the most common place for teenagers to get unauthorized prescription pain medication (p = 0.02) Table 2. Opiate Knowledge for the whole sample

Table 3. Opiate Knowledge Stratified by Age Groups



The purpose of the study was to determine the knowledge levels of people in the Greater Lowell community regarding opioids. We found that many people are aware that heroin and Oxycontin are opioids, but the knowledge of other drugs was less known. Also, many people in the Greater Lowell area were unaware of what the drug Narcan is and its importance in preventing opioid overdose deaths. Most of the participants were unaware that prescription drugs are the most common gateway drug, and many were unaware of how frequent opioid overdose is in Massachusetts. We also found that older people tended to know less about opioids than younger people. There were a few limitations to this study. This was a pilot study which, due to the small sample size, lacked statistical power to allow for the precise estimation of community opioid knowledge. We increased the sample size by distributing an online survey. Even though we distributed an online and paper survey we did not have a large enough sample size that reached all population groups. Researchers should carefully choose locations that can better represent the Greater Lowell area, as to eliminate any bias. In addition, the sample was a convenience sample, not a random sample. As a result, the sample may not be representative of the general population. We did try, however, to survey people at locations that various citizens would go to such as Market Basket, Showcase Cinema, and downtown Lowell in order to ensure a diverse cross-section of the population. Another limitation of this study is that participants that were younger than eighteen and those who could not speak or read English could not participate in the study. To get a better understanding of the community’s knowledge, researchers should include young people, and non-English speaking people. In addition, there were not enough people in this sample who work in manual labor jobs to do an additional analysis of that sub-population; this would be important information to have, given that this population is disproportionately impacted by opiate overdose. The data we collected indicate that a large proportion of the public is still unaware of the dra8 UMLJUR

matic changes that have happened regarding opioid overdose. In particular, older individuals appear to have less knowledge that could help prevent opioid overdose deaths. Despite health education campaigns providing information regarding abuse of prescription medication, as well as general information about Oxycontin and heroin, many members of the community are unaware of the recent, dramatic rise of deaths due to opioid overdose. During the past decade drug related deaths havedoubled among teenagers and young adults and tripled among people ages 50-69 [7]. The largest number of drug-related deaths is among people in their 40’s [7]. The rate of deaths due to opioid overdoses in Massachusetts is equivalent to the national rate, at 11.8 deaths per 100,000 [8]. This rise of opioid overdoses mirrors an increase of sales for prescription pain relievers [8]. The data collected describes the people in the Greater Lowell community’s knowledge level of opioids. It is clear that a portion of the public is unaware of issues regarding gateway drugs, Narcan, and the rise of deaths caused by opioid overdose. We believe people in other parts of Massachusetts would have a similar opioid knowledge as the people in our study. With the aid of federal grant money, Massachusetts has combined efforts with community coalitions to create local strategies for preventing drug overdoses. This includes programs for unused prescription drugs. Massachusetts is developing treatment programs for people addicted to prescription pain relievers. Nurses working in community health centers are being trained to supply care and resources for patients with substance abuse. In 2009, Massachusetts developed an electronic prescription monitoring system to prevent multiple doctors prescribing medication to the same patient, including medical practices that border other states. Representatives are attempting to make the monitoring system required for all doctors who prescribe controlled substances [8]. Although we had a small sample size, we feel it is most likely representative of citizens living in Massachusetts. Various knowledge regarding the use and abuse of opioids among community members is not sufficient. Therefore more intervention and education programs should be implemented

in schools, hospitals, workplaces, and other community settings so that people can be more aware of the seriousness of opioid abuse. More research needs to be conducted to determine community opioid knowledge in Massachusetts and the U.S. This study serves as a starting point for future research studies on the topic of opioids. Research to test interventions designed to increase opioid knowledge may be an important tool to improving opioid-related health outcomes.


Many people are unaware of a variety of knowledge pertaining to opioids, related overdoses, and prevention. Increased health education and health promotion programs and research on this topic can help to increase knowledge and alleviate the health burden of opioid misuse. In conclusion this study was successful in showing that education and intervention programs are still very much needed in the Greater Lowell Area.

5.Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Lowell Health Department. (2010). Opioid overdose prevention facts 6.Massachusetts Department of Public Health, SPHERE Health Imperatives. (2011). Recognizing an opiate overdose 7.Join Together Staff. (2011, September 19). Drug-related fatalities top deaths from motor vehicle accidents. Retrieved from join-together/drugs/drug-related-fatalities-top-deaths-from-motor-vehicleaccidents?utm_source=Join Together Daily&utm_campaign=f40088b5c5-JT Daily News: Drug-Related Fatalities Top..&utm_medium=email 8.Conaboy C. (2011 November 25). CDC: Opioid pain relievers bigger overdose threat than heroin, cocaine combined. Retrieved from http://www. 9.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People. (2011). Substance abuse. Retrieved from


We would like to acknowledge Maria Ruggiero from the Lowell Health Department, who facilitated the creation of the paper based surveys and the distribution of the online surveys. We would also like to thank all the participants who took the time and effort to complete our paper and online surveys, and the employees at the various locations who allowed us to conduct research at their businesses.  


1.Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services. (2010). Opioid overdose prevention. Retrieved from http:// umer&L2=Prevention and Wellness&L3=Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs&L4=Alcohol and Other Drugs&sid=Eeohhs2&b=terminalcontent&f =dph_substance_abuse_c_prevention_opioid_overdose&csid=Eeohhs2 2.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2011). Prescription drug abuse. Retrieved from http://www. 3.Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services. (2006). Oxycontin: the facts 4.Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Lowell Health Department. (2010). Facts about pain medication


The Design and Manufacturing Process of a Formula Hybrid SAE Racecar Sean Dever, Casey Lacourse, Luke Orlando Department of Mechanical Engineering

Introduction This final report describes the design and manufacturing processes for a 2012 Fomula Hybrid competition entry for the University of Massachusetts – Lowell. The vehicle is designed as a low cost vehicle that is able to be manufactured easily; therefore many of the design decisions were chosen for the ease of manufacturing instead of the maximum theoretical performance achieved. The team focused on power train systems, suspension dynamic, ergonomic & safety, and manufacturing processes in order to design a vehicle that will compete with a high level of performance in the 2012 competition. As a team, we decided to enter Formula Hybrid after only two conventional SAE cars. This decision had many factors that we all accepted before the design process started. As a team we encountered many learning curves and obstacles that affected us as individuals and as engineers. Over the two rookie years (Virgina and Michigan) we grew as a team in size and knowledge. Many lessons were learned and many of those lessons were applied to this design of the 2012 Formula Hybrid SAE race car. Among others, compact, and light weight designs are key. Mainly though we decided as a team that this design is to remain simple and designed to manufacture. This was our main goal, and a constant theme through every design part that makes up this automobile. The three main sections of this report were power train, suspension dynamics, and ergonomics & driver safety. This summary will follow the same format.


Discussion In power train, many different topics were touched upon such as internal combustion motors, electric motors, batteries, drive train, and chassis design. The hybrid gasoline electric power train designed for the 2012 Formula Hybrid competition consists of three systems. An internal combustion engine and transmission assembly with a displacement of 250 cubic centimeters, an electric motor, and a system of electronic controllers that are comprised of both a low voltage system and a high voltage system. All elements of the design work together to create a forward movement of the vehicle in such a way that is not only of high performance output but is designed for maximum possible fuel economy during operation. The internal combustion engine chosen for the design was the 2009/10 Honda CRF 250x engine. This was chosen due to its high performance and reliability when compared to other 250cc engines as well as the success other Formula Hybrid teams have had in previous years competitions. The engine is electric start and meets the requirements of the current 2011 formula hybrid rules. The electric motor chosen for the competition entry was the Agni 95 series permanent magnet motor. This motor is currently the “golden standard� for Formula Hybrid vehicles due to its high power to weight ratio of 12hp/11kg. This motor uses a standard 4-bolt mounting flange which is common to the Briggs and Stratton e-Tek motor, a common motor in the electric power sports industry. The Agni 95 series motor can run at a voltage of 72v D.C. At this voltage a maximum motor output shaft speed of 6000 RPM can be achieved. The two motors being discussed can be seen in Figures 1 & 2.

Figure 3: Battery Bank

Figure 1. Honda 250cc I.C. Engine

Figure 2. Agni Electric Motor The hybrid’s system accumulator consists of two battery banks consisting of six Braille ML7T lithium-ion batteries. Each battery bank is wired in series and the two battery banks are wired in parallel. This configuration allows for a full 72v system. The batteries are enclosed in a structure manufactured from ½” square tubing and Lexan in accordance with the Formula Hybrid rules. The vehicle is designed to run the MegaSquirt 2 fuel injection system using the MicroSquirt 2 module. This was chosen because of the low cost of the controller and the open source community behind the ever updating source code for the controller. A solid model of the battery bank is shown in Figure 3. The hybrid drive train is that of a parallel

type which incorporates an electric motor coupled to a Torsen T-1 differential via a fixed chain and sprocket assembly, thus the maximum speed of the hybrid racecar is a function of the maximum speed of the output shaft of the electric motor. An internal combustion engine mated to a motorcycle five speed wet clutch non syncro transmission and is coupled to the Torsen T-1differential via a chain and sprocket assembly. The differential is mounted outside of the vehicle in order to save weight and facilitate modifications to the engine and motor gear ratios during dynamic testing. The parallel drive train was chosen for its simplicity and due to research into the past three years of Formula Hybrid competition winners all of which have been of 250cc gasoline engine with a small electric motor coupled to a rear dive differential in a parallel fashion. A solid model of the differential assembly is shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Outboard Differential


The chassis was designed solely as an enclosure for all the parts of the car to go inside or attach to. In order to ensure safety, the chassis adheres to all Formula Hybrid rules concerning build geometry and tubing selection. Square tubing is primarily used when allowed because it is significantly easier to manufacture the chassis when using square tubing compared to using round tubing. The proposed chassis design is shown in Figure 5. The power train in this design was meant to be built simply and cost effectively. This vehicle is meant to be an ongoing project, not something a group of engineers designed and simply left for others to study. This design is made to be improved on and evolve with the team as the team changes.

decision to change from uniaxial control arms to A-Arms was made because the previous car experienced difficulty actuating the suspension due to the stacking of the rod ends when making the pivot point at the uprights. This essentially created a second fourbar linkage within the geometry of a single A-Arm. Utilizing A-Arms with spherical bearings will enable the car’s suspension to actuate as designed. Pull-rods were replaced with push-rods because it allowed for easily accessing suspension components such as the springs for changing spring rates and pre-load and shocks for adjusting damping. In the previous car suspension components were very difficult to access. The control arms

Figure 5: Chassis Design The suspension of the car was designed for the main event in the competition, the autocross. The autocross event consists of mainly low speed conditions such as slaloms and hairpin turns but has been known for high speed straights. The track specifications given by the Formula Hybrid rules correspond directly to the extreme conditions seen during competition. Average speeds should be 40 km/hr (25 mph) to 48 km/hr (30 mph), but maximum speeds have been known to reach as high as 65 mph. There was a large debate on the suspension set up. We could either use an old design for suspension or use a different design that made manufacturing and maintenance much easier. The 12 UMLJUR

connect to the wheel upright which is where the wheel makes contact with the suspension and ultimately the rest of the car. The components of the suspension are designed to be made of ½� carbon fiber rods that would use epoxy to adhere them to the I-bolts used to allow the suspension actuate. Finally the ergonomics and driver safety of the car were designed to simplify the life of the driver and the students working on it. Since the cabin is used to store most of the electronics of the fuel injection system, the seat needs to be removed often. Also the body panels often become an obstacle. It was proposed to integrate the seat with the body panels and floor board. This makes for a lighter de-

Figure 6: Old Uniaxial Control Arms vs. New AArms sign and more efficient for working on the car. The seat was to be made from carbon fiber composite and 1 inch insulation foam. It could be made easily and affordably. The design can be seen in figure 7.

great and require a group of highly motivated students. Now that most of the original team has moved on and graduated, it is up to a new generation of students to continue on the team and progress forward.

Figure 7. Design of Cabin The goal was to design a Hybrid FSAE Car and that was completed. Plans were made for a lightweight, easy to manufacture, and simple hybrid race car and that is what was delivered. Since this capstone the car has been delayed due to team changes. The design still remains with the FSAE team at UMass Lowell, but at this time only small parts have been manufactured. The logistics of running a FSAE team are extremely

Figure 8. Final Assembly Model of the 2012 FSAE Hybrid Car. UMLJUR 13

Food Security and Customer Satisfaction among Food Pantry Clients in the Greater Lowell Area Antje Brisbin, Krista Bobola, Kathleen McCabe, Shawn Patterson, Nancy Sok, Christine Soundara, and Leland K. Ackerson, ScD Department of Community Health and Sustainability

Background: The Mobile Pantry program (MP) of the Merrimack Valley Food Bank in Lowell, Massachusetts works to make sure that their clients have a sufficient amount of appropriate foods delivered for a nutritious diet. The purpose of this project was to assess the effectiveness of MP services and explore opportunities for providing more healthful foods. Methods: The project was a descriptive cross-sectional study surveying MP clients, who are homebound, low-income elderly and/or disabled individuals residing in Greater Lowell. The survey took place between October 10 and November 16, 2011. Participation was anonymous and voluntary. Results: The primary client from each of 77 households out of 309 responded to the questionnaire. Most of the respondents were white, female, and over age 65. Most respondents agreed strongly that with MP’s aid they ate more fruits, vegetables, and healthy foods; ate a balanced diet; were more physically and socially active; and generally felt healthier. Most respondents also stated that they would skip more meals and spend less on other necessities if they did not have help from MP. The majority of respondents felt able to perform all of the food preparation tasks and use all of the kitchen appliances/tools about which they were asked, with the exception of following a complicated recipe. Conclusion: MP may be essential for the health, nutritional well-being, and food security of the low-income elderly and/or disabled in the Greater Lowell community. Both respondents’ willingness to try new foods and their applicable meal preparation capabilities indicate an opportunity for MP to provide more healthful options. The results of this study may be utilized to improve MP services and food variety.

Background According to the World Health Organization (WHO), food security includes “both physical and economic access to food that meets people’s dietary needs as well as their food preferences.”1 WHO defines food security as being based on three aspects: food availability; food access; and food use. Food availability is the amount of food that is available on a consistent basis. Food access describes the resources that are available to allow people to access nutritious foods for a balanced and healthy diet. Food use is based on knowledge of nutrition and care of food items, along with having sufficient amounts of water and sanitation. An estimated 49.1 million Americans (16.4%) are food insecure and do not have access to sufficient amounts of food due to lack of finances and other resources.2 The Status Report on Hunger in Massachusetts 2010 indicates that 615,000 14 UMLJUR

people in the Commonwealth are struggling to put food on the table every day – an 11 percent increase in food insecurity over the previous year – and over 8.3 percent of households (206,172) in Massachusetts struggle with “food insecurity,” a measurement that captures the degree to which an individual or family cannot obtain adequate nutritious food for a healthy life.3 The number of food insecure people continues to increase, which creates a demand for food distribution programs.4 The Mobile Pantry program (MP) sponsored by the Merrimack Valley Food Bank in Lowell, Massachusetts is one of these programs. At the time of the survey, MP was serving 366 clients – both homebound low-income elderly and disabled individuals, and their dependent children. It is important that MP clients be food secure, meaning: that they have a sufficient amount of food to ration throughout the month until their next food delivery; that appropriate foods are deliv-

ered for a nutritious diet; and that the food supply is used appropriately in moderation. MP assists their clients in Greater Lowell with regular monthly deliveries and occasional emergency deliveries of nutritious foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, canned goods, cereals, non-perishable items and meat. The purpose of this study was to analyze client feedback to evaluate: 1) the extent to which MP is providing a useful and valuable health-promoting service; and 2) appropriate means of increasing the nutritional value of the foods MP provides.


Study Design / Participants / Study Size This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study which surveyed MP clients. All individuals who were primary MP clients during the survey period were eligible to participate. Thus, all participants were homebound, low-income elderly and/or disabled individuals residing in Greater Lowell who received MP services between October 10 and November 3, 2011. Approximately 92% of these clients were fluent in English. During this period, the survey was distributed to 309 households wherein resided 366 MP clients (including 25 dependent children) and, as of November 16, 2011, 77 questionnaires had been returned and were included in analysis. Setting / Bias An MP volunteer personally delivered a survey packet to the primary client in each household. The client was assured both verbally and in writing that participation in the survey was completely voluntary and anonymous. In order to alleviate any perception of risk by the client, it was made clear that neither her/his survey responses nor choosing to opt out of participating in the survey would have any impact on continued receipt or quality of MP services. Also, no incentives were offered so that clients would not feel induced to participate despite any residual reluctance. The volunteer provided the client with a paper questionnaire and a stamped envelope, pre-addressed to the MP office. To ensure confidentiality, the volunteer then instructed the client not to write

her/his name or any identifying information on the questionnaire. The volunteer further requested that when finished with the questionnaire – whether it was completed, partially completed or blank – the client seal the questionnaire in the envelope provided and mail it. Data Sources / Variables / Measurement The source of all data used in the study was a 25-item, paper, English-language questionnaire developed in cooperation with the MP Director. The questionnaire requested self-reported information pertaining to food security, food preparation capabilities, healthy food preferences, and satisfaction with MP services. For example, one question asked which (of a choice of several) food preparation tasks the client felt able to perform in her/his home. These included such things as whether they were able to use various kitchen tools and appliances, and whether they were able to read and follow complicated recipes, food packaging instructions and nutritional information. Demographic data in the form of age, gender, race and ethnicity were also requested. The racial categories were chosen based on 2010 U.S. Census guidelines. In accordance with the Census protocol, the questionnaire asked for ethnicity separately – which it defined as either Hispanic/Latino or Non-Hispanic/NonLatino. Most items were closed questions with between two and eight answer options provided. Only two questions allowed for an open response. For details, please see the copy of the questionnaire attached as Appendix I (see supplemental material online for appendices). Statistical Methods Data was analyzed in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Prevalence of each response was calculated for closed questions. Responses to open questions were tabulated, and are presented in Appendix II. Human Subjects Protection Due to the anonymous nature of the survey and the exposure of respondents to less than minimal risk, the Institutional Review Board of the University of Massachusetts Lowell approved this UMLJUR 15

study as exempt from full review in October 2011.

Results Demographics The questionnaire was distributed to 309 MP primary clients, 77 of whom had responded by November 16, 2011, for a response rate of 25%. The racial breakdown of the respondents was approximately 91% white, 3% black, and 5% other. The ethnic breakdown of respondents was 9% Hispanic/Latino and 66% Non-Hispanic/Non-Latino, with 25% declining to respond. Grouping by gender, 34% were male and 65% were female, with a single non-response. (See Table 1). Combining age and race revealed two pluralities: 53% were white and over 65; while 29% were whites aged 25-59. (See Graph 1.)


Graph 1

Client Satisfaction and Perception of Benefits A majority of clients agreed that MP benefited them regarding the intake of more fresh fruits and vegetables; eating healthy foods and a balanced diet; being more physically and socially active; and feeling healthier overall. (See Table 2 & Graph 2.) This is consistent with the fact that, without assistance from MP, 69% indicated they would eat fewer fruits and vegetables; 66% said they would spend less money on other necessities such as medicine or utility bills in order to pay for food; and 64% said they would skip meals more often. When asked how much of the food they received every month they had used, 56% said they had used all of the food provided; and 39% replied as to using most of the food; with only 4% indicating they used some of the food.

Graph 2 Ratings of overall experience participating in MP was quite positive with 70% giving them an excellent service rating, 25% good; only 1% fair; and 3% not responding. Healthier Food Options Two groups of questions were directed at helping MP to achieve its goal of providing more health-promoting foods to their clients. One series inquired as to clients’ food preparation capabilities. Responses indicated that 86% of the clients felt comfortable with the use of their stove; 75% their oven; and 62% with reading instructions; but only 34% said they were comfortable following recipes.

(See Table 3.) The second series of questions focused on the clients’ willingness to try new, more healthful food options. Most (77%) said they would try lower salt foods; 78% were interested in trying foods lower in sugar; 51% said they would try more fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits; and 83% would try whole-grain foods. While 40% would be willing to try foods lower in saturated and trans-fats such as veggie burgers or beans, almost half (47%) of respondents did not answer this question. Yet, 89% said they would eat more foods containing healthier fats such as olive and canola oils, omega-3 eggs and tuna, with only a 4% nonresponse rate. (See Table 4.) UMLJUR 17

Discussion Key Results The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of MP services and investigate options for providing improved nutrition. The results showed that the clients who responded to the survey felt strongly that MP’s services benefited them in numerous ways. We can conclude that with the services provided by the program, a majority of the respondents ate more fresh fruits and vegetables; ate healthy foods and a balanced diet; were more physically and socially active; and felt healthier overall. Responses also point to a positive impact on clients’ food security in that MP services reduced the number of meals skipped and alleviated the need to spend less money on other necessities in order to pay for food. A large majority of clients expressed interest in experimenting with healthier food options, and indicated they were capable of preparing such foods. The results also showed that a large majority of the respondents felt that MP was providing them excellent service. The data collected from the survey may help MP to optimize community-based health, nutrition, and food delivery, and assure the population of homebound low-income elderly and disabled individuals in Greater Lowell that food security will continue to be evaluated and improved. This survey may enable MP to respond to special needs or concerns that their clients may have. It may assist MP in achieving their goal of providing clients


with the daily nutrients in their food package to give them a healthier lifestyle. Limitations One key limitation we encountered in this study was the low response rate. Of the 309 primary MP clients who received a questionnaire, only 77 (or 25%) filled out and returned the survey. This factor may have introduced systematic sample bias. It is conceivable that, despite our efforts to allay clients’ possible concerns regarding repercussions, those who had more positive feedback were more inclined to participate and express their opinions than those with relatively negative feelings toward MP. Also, people with more time, inclination, and

ability to answer may have had a different experience with the program. Perhaps if we had allowed a longer response time, or made a deadline for questionnaire return explicit, we would have obtained a larger sample size, making it possible to draw firmer inferences. More importantly, the sample obtained may not be representative of the whole client population. There may be a reason that the 75% of clients who did not respond were systematically different from the respondents. If this is the case, it may be that those who found the program to be the most useful were the most likely to complete the questionnaire. In order to investigate this possibility more closely, we compared the demographic characteristics of respondents with that of the known program participants. For example, the respondents categorized themselves as approximately 91% white, 3% black, and 5% other, with only one respondent declining to specify race. By contrast, the data MP collects at client intake shows a racial distribution of 90% white, 2% black, 2% Asian and 2% other. The gender breakdown of our respondents was 34% male and 65% female. In comparison, MP’s intake data shows proportions of 41% male and 59% female. Age distribution among survey respondents was 0% 0-18, 31% 19-59, and 68% over 60, while MP records show 7% 0-18, 33% 19-59, and 60% over 60. (See Table 1.) The MP client intake data are collected by household rather than by respondent and also include some co-resident adults and dependent chil-

dren, whereas ours do not. Nevertheless, the demographic characteristics in the survey were quite similar to those from the intake data indicating that the recruited sample may in fact provide a good estimate for the population, at least in terms of demographic composition. The issue of a potential language barrier may also have contributed to the small sample size. Although 92% of MP clients were reportedly fluent in English, it is possible that a disproportionate number of those with less command of the written language were among the non-respondents. We have no way to determine this definitively as we did not inquire about fluency in spoken or written English. Also, some of the terms used in the survey may have been confusing even among native English-speakers. For example, while 40% of those who answered the question were interested in trying foods lower in saturated and trans-fats, almost half (47%) of the respondents did not answer. This is in contrast to 89% of the MP clients saying they would eat more foods containing healthier fats, with only 3% not responding. On the one hand, the second question was expressed in simpler terms. On the other hand, the difference might simply reflect personal taste preferences for the specific examples provided for each category, i.e., veggie burgers or beans, vs. olive and canola oils, omega-3 eggs and tuna. Again, we can only speculate as we did not ask for the clients’ reasons. (See Table 4.) UMLJUR 19

Interpretation According to the results gathered, MP’s services successfully addressed all three aspects of food security. Food availability was satisfied by regular monthly deliveries of food, most or all of which was used by 95% of responding clients; food access was provided in that, with MP’s aid, most respondents consumed more produce and other healthful foods and ate a balanced diet; food use was becoming an increasing priority with 89% of MP clients agreeing that they would consume foods that are higher in healthy fats (olive or canola oil, omega-3 eggs, tuna) and 83% of MP clients willing to try more whole grains in order to consume a healthier diet. It is not surprising that, without MP, food insecurity would continue to be a major problem for MP’s clients in that most respondents indicated that they would skip more meals and spend less money on necessities such as medicines or utility bills in order to pay for food. Because the clients are primarily homebound, low-income elderly and/ or disabled individuals, they encounter physical obstacles in getting to a grocery market and some may experience financial difficulty in purchasing food items. Also, some clients have children to support, which could be extremely difficult in the current economic climate. Thus, MP is a necessity to the low-income elderly and or disabled individuals in the Greater Lowell community. Food security becomes less of a struggle with MP assisting their clients with regular monthly deliveries and occasional emergency deliveries of nutritious foods. From the data collected, we could foresee a randomized control trial conducted to study the health effects on MP clients of increasing the nutritional value of foods provided. The study could compare health outcomes of MP clients with a control group, with physical assessments conducted pre- and post- consumption of nutritious foods provided by MP over some time period. A second survey similar to ours, but pertaining specifically to MP clients’ subjective perceptions of their health status, could also be created for follow up. This and other further research into the benefits of MP’s valuable health-promoting services could provide 20 UMLJUR

concrete data to obtain additional funding, recruit additional volunteers and food donations, and perhaps help to launch a pilot program expanding their services to a larger population. Generalizability Although the results gathered from the MP survey make intuitive sense, they may be reliably applied to only a small group of low-income elderly and/or disabled clients in the Greater Lowell area. Further generalization of the results to a different population group or in a different region other than Greater Lowell – or even to the entire MP client base – should be done with caution given the small sample size and doubts about its representativeness.

Conclusion A well coordinated Mobile Pantry program may be essential for the health, nutritional wellbeing and food security of the low-income elderly and/or disabled population of the Greater Lowell community. The results of this study may be utilized to improve the services of the Mobile Pantry program and the variety of food that they distribute each month.

Acknowledgements We would like to thank Suellen O’Neill and all of the personnel of the Mobile Pantry program of the Merrimack Valley Food Bank for supporting this project and providing guidance and background information. This project was performed pro bono, as part of an academic program in the University of Massachusetts Lowell, School of Health and Environment.

References 1 WHO | Food Security.” World Health Organization. Web. 15 Oct. 2011. 2 Nord, Mark, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson. Household FoodSecurity in the United States, 2008. ERR-83, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture,Econ. Res. Serv. November 2009;6-15. 3 Flaherty, K., Food for Families Project Report, Project Bread – The Walk for Hunger and Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Pediatrics, 2009, unpublished data. 4 March, Elizabeth L., John T. Cook, and Stephanie E. De Cuba. “Food Inse curity Rates Rise Steeply with Recession.” CHILDREN’S HEALTHWATCH POLICY ACTION BRIEF (2009).


MCNP Modeling of the UMass Lowell Research Reactor Gamma Irradiation Facility Michael Ducey Department of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering

Introduction The goal of this project was to develop and validate a detailed Monte Carlo N-Particle Transport1 (MCNP) model of the Gamma Irradiation Facility located in the University of Massachusetts Lowell Research Reactor (UMLRR). The Gamma Irradiation Facility is an offshoot room of the UMLRR, where materials are irradiated by a Cobalt 60 source. Cobalt 60 emits two primary gammas at 1.17 and 1.33 MeV. Knowledge of the gamma irradiation field is needed for both planning and subsequent analysis of any sample irradiation. With a working MCNP model of this facility, the gamma flux as a function of distance from the source can be determined at any particular time. MCNP is a computer code that allows a user to simulate both neutron and photon particle transport. MCNP uses statistical probabilities to track the paths that these particles take throughout a given geometry. This evaluation technique is much different from other deterministic methods like the diffusion equation, which looks at averaged cross sections in homogenized zones to determine the flux distribution throughout the system. In contrast to that solution technique, MCNP looks at the interaction of every radiation particle at every junction. Some examples of this for photons would be simulating the possibility of a particle being involved in a Compton scatter, pair production, or photoelectric effect at a given location. Further, MCNP will use probabilities to calculate the scatter angle and the energy that the photon has after these interactions, and continues to do this until the photon has deposited all of its energy. As can be seen from this brief description, MCNP is a powerful tool that can be used to supplement experimental methods, or validate deterministic modeling techniques. 22 UMLJUR

For the purposes of this project, MCNP was used to create a working model of the irradiation facilities at UML. These facilities are used to expose different materials to a photon source and test the material’s response to this irradiation. The photon source that is used in this facility is Cobalt 60 which emits gamma particles, or high energy photons. Cobalt 60 is an unstable isotope of cobalt that readily decays to Nickel 60 by photon decay. Intricate knowledge of both the number of photons present and the energy with which these photons possess, are vital to properly test the exposure to materials. We refer to the flux (the number of particles per cm2 per second) to give us insight into the “quantity” of photons present, and the dose rate (the amount of radiation absorbed per second) to give us insight into the energy deposition associated with a photon field. These terms will be used regularly in the following sections. Establishing a working MCNP model would reduce the need for periodical radiation measurements. Currently, experimental techniques are used to determine photon fluxes and dose rates. This requires irradiating a known sample and “back tracking” information about the photon field from there. Here, MCNP could be used to supplement this existing procedure and would be able to quickly gauge experimental accuracy. In addition, reactor staff could have a preexisting knowledge of the photon flux and energies a head of time and plan accordingly. With a working MCNP model, a user could input the decay corrected source data in a post processing code from MATLAB, and flux profiles as a function of distance and dose rates could be generated. Clearly, this would be a valuable asset to the UML Irradiation Facilities.

Description of the Actual Work

The work involved with this project primarily consisted of creating a working geometrical model of the gamma irradiation facilities in MCNP, developing post processing codes via MATLAB, and validating these tools with experimental data. Accurately defining the geometry of the facilities is crucial to the implementation and continuation of the code in the future. The MATLAB post processing code is necessary to the functionality of the model, because it allows a user to input the magnitude of the source, and output selected photon data. Using the post processing code, the data was converted into dose rates in silicon and compared to experimentally found rates. Once these aspects are completed, the practical use of the code for future use is justified. The source is contained in a rack with 16 cobalt rods or “pencils” from Nordion Inc2. The rack is submerged in the UMLRR pool and placed in a stainless steel sleeve designed to hold the rack in position against the aluminum wall. The MCNP model of this rack is given in Figure 1. In this figure, the red represents the 16 cobalt pencils, and the blue represents the stainless steel rack which holds the pencils in place. An important feature of this rack representation is the fact that there are two possible pencil locations in the center of the rack that are empty. The reason why these locations were left unfilled is to try to smear out the distributions of photons that are emitted by the source. In other words, instead of there being a large peak of

photons in the center, there is a more uniform distribution. Another interesting thing to note from the side view of the rack is the fact that the Cobalt source is extremely close to the aluminum wall (green) of the irradiation facilities. The center of the source is only about 2 cm away from the wall, because the closer you are to the source the stronger the source strength. The small gap between the rack and the wall is filled by the water from the UMLRR pool. The cobalt pencils are made up of a stainless steel tube with cobalt “slugs” in the interior. These slugs are approximately 2 inches in length and are laid one on top of another in the pencil. Of these slugs, only 6 are made up of active Cobalt 60, while the rest are made up of stable cobalt. A rough sketch of a cobalt pencil can be seen on the right. The red slugs represent active Co-60 sources and the yellow slugs represent inactive cobalt. Notice that once again, there is a source void in the center of the pencil. Two inactive slugs are placed in the center, which further separates the sources from the middle of the pencil. These pencils are positioned vertically in the rack as seen in Figure 1. The geometry for the irradiation facility is simply a small room that is a a 6 ft x 9 ft x 8ft offshoot of the UML Research Reactor with a concrete ceiling and concrete walls to block any radiation from leaking out into the environment. The room is basically empty except for a small aluminum “window” on one end. This window can be seen in Figure 2 and this is where items are usually placed to be irradiated. On the other side of the aluminum window is where the Cobalt 60 source is kept.


Figure 2. Gamma Irradiation Facility Window As can be seen by this figure, materials are placed inside this window to get maximum exposure from the source. The rest of the irradiation facility is empty space surrounded by concrete walls. The MCNP Visual Editor representation of the entire geometry can be seen below in Figure 3 which shows two views of the generated geometry. Top View

Side View

These figures are drawn to scale and the colors correspond to certain materials. Blue areas represent the concrete walls, ceiling, and floor, the purple section is air, and the yellow region represents the water of the reactor pool. The cobalt rack is the small box-like structure opposite the irradiation facility window. There is also a small green section that represents the thin aluminum wall at the interface of the water and concrete (See Figure 1). Looking at the irradiation facility, there are several important features. First, notice that the facility is only separated from the UMLRR pool by a 2 cm thick aluminum wall. So the rack has water on one side, and the facility close by on the other. Also, notice that the rack is placed directly in the center of the window. The major structure of importance for the room is of course the window. As can be seen from Figure 3 this representation shows the slanted walls and a slanted ceiling that is seen in Figure 2. This structure clearly “opens up� as you move further away from the aluminum wall and into the rest of the room. Then the only other material present in that part of the model is the air that fills the remaining empty space. Once this geometry is established in MCNP, the model was run and the gamma particle fluxes were tallied using the mesh tally output. Because MCNP outputs its photon data on a one particle basis, this output was then normalized to the total Cobalt 60 source, giving the total gamma flux. MCNP also stores its data into an output file and does not plot any relevant information for you. So, in order to actively compare these results with experimental data, the fluxes were converted into silicon dose rates, by using appropriate kerma factors3. A post processing computer code was written in MATLAB, which was programmed to read the MCNP output file, make appropriate flux and dose conversions, and plot the desired results.

Results Figure 3. MCNP Generated Geometry


The results for this work were primarily in the form of photon flux and dose rate data as a function of distance from the rack. These results are summarized in this section.

Figure 4: Surface Plot of Flux from Rack Figure 4 is a surface plot of the total gamma flux from just outside the rack. Looking at the “hot� red locations, we can see that these correspond to the active source slugs, and their positions are clearly defined. The inactive slugs and the two empty pencil locations effectively separate the sources from each other, so much so in fact that the active slug locations can be easily identified by the magnitude of the flux. Clearly, the closer you are to the source, the higher the flux will be. Thus, the highest concentrations of photons in this figure are located around the positions of the active source slugs in the rack. Note that the cobalt rack faces two directions, one in the direction of the Gamma Irradiation Facilities and one in the direction of the UMLRR pool. Therefore, two sets of flux magnitudes as a function of distance from the rack were generated, one in the UMLRR water and one in the direction of the facilities. The flux profiles for the water model direction can be seen below in Figures 5 and 6.

Figure 5: Plots of Total Gamma Flux as a Function of Distance from Rack (Water Model)

Figure 6: Contour Map of Total Gamma Flux (Water Model)


Looking at Figure 5, the relationship between the attenuation (loss) of photons as a function of distance from the rack is a purely exponential decay. Plotted on a log scale, this is shown as a straight line with negative slope. This makes perfect sense, as the further into the geometry the photons go, the more opportunities they have to interact with the atoms that make up the system. The more potential interactions the photon has, the more interactions occur. As a result, the number of photons rapidly diminishes as they move through the geometry. Note also that there is a peak just in front of the source at around 3 cm from the rack. This peak is due to the fact that at the center of the rack, the only contributions to the flux are from the interior sources. The photon contributions from the outer sources are blocked, or shielded from this location by the superposition of interior structures. In other words, in the center of the rack, the outer sources do not fully impact the flux; however when you move slightly away from this position, there are no structures to shield photons, and therefore a higher flux is seen. There are two basic modes for the attenuation of photons seen in Figure 5, geometrical and interaction based. Here, because the material (water) is so dense, the primary mode of attenuation is particle interactions. The average path that a photon can travel before interacting with another atom is very small because the atoms are very close together. So, the photon deposits some of its energy into the material every time it has an interaction and thus quickly deposits all of its energy. Therefore few photons survive past 80 cm of water. Though interaction based attenuation is the dominant factor, geometrical attenuation also is present. Notice that the photon flux is spread out like a normal wave function. This is not at all surprising as photons regularly behave as waves. As the wave spreads out, the flux of the photons must also lessen as they move to fill the available space. Because there is more space to fill as this plane wave grows, the amount of photons present at these locations must necessarily decrease. Shifting focus to the second model, the gamma flux profile through the Gamma Irradia26 UMLJUR

tion Facility as a function of distance can be seen below. As can be seen from Figure 7, the flux profile again attenuates in an exponential-like fashion with respect to distance from the rack. On the surface, these figures are very similar to the flux profiles for the rack in water, however there are subtle differences. First, the rate at which the photon flux decays is much faster in the water geometry. For example, in Figure 5 the flux decays by three orders of magnitude around 80 cm while in Figure 7, the flux profile never fully reaches a comparable level even after 250 cm. This is because the interaction attenuation is much stronger in the water geometry. The water is much denser than air and therefore the gamma photons are forced to have more interactions over a certain distance. Since the photon losses some of its energy in every interaction, total energy deposition occurs much quicker in water than in air. The differences between these two models are more apparent as the distance from the rack increases. This is partly because photons do interact with water for the first 2 cm of their journey before they cross the aluminum wall and enter the facility. Note from Figure 7 that the attenuation in the irradiation facilities is not purely exponential. When plotted on a log scale, a purely exponential function will appear as a straight line like in the water model. However, this is not what is seen in the Gamma Irradiation Facility geometry. This observation is due to the fact that the geometry of the system dominates the photon attenuation. The photon interaction with air is sparse because air has a low density. A low density means less objects for the photons to interact with, and thus less interactions. Also, in the irradiation facilities model, the geometry “opens up� at several different locations, which allows the photons to spread out. The two primary locations that this spreading out occurs is when the aluminum wall ends and the photons enter the air, and when the window structure ends and the photons enter the free space of the entire room. These effects can clearly be seen by looking at the logarithmic plot of flux as a function of distance. For a very small distance from the source, the attenuation is almost purely expo-

nential. This is because the interaction mode and geometrical mode are both contributing to the attenuation of the flux. However at 45 to 50 cm from the rack, a quicker decay takes over. 50 cm from the source is about half way through the window structure, and 100 cm is approximately the distance where the window ends and the large empty space of the room begins. More insight into this effect can be seen in the flux contour maps below.

These two figures show top and side views of the rack and Gamma Irradiation Facility geometry with a contour map of the total gamma flux vs. position. Here, the “wave-like� spreading out behavior of the gamma emissions can again be seen. This is shown as the magnitude of the photon flux being equally dispersed in several plane waves. The

Figure 7: Plots of Total Gamma Flux as a Function of Distance from Rack (Facility Model)

Figure 8: Top View (Left) and Side View (Right) Total Flux Contour Plot


impact that the two slanted walls have on the total gamma flux is clearly seen in the top view. These walls start at around 5 cm from the origin of the MCNP model, and they effectively result in a “pinching� of the flux at these locations. Because the walls are made of concrete, the photons cannot penetrate this dense material easily, so attenuation occurs very quickly. Similarly, the effects of the slanted ceiling and shelf-like base of the window can be seen in the side view. Again, quick attenuation of the flux by geometrical restrictions is present. With the fluxes determined for the irradiation facility case, the accuracy of these numbers was tested. These fluxes were converted into dose rates in silicon, and compared to experimentally determined results. A plot of silicon dose rates for both the MCNP and experimental cases is shown below.

Figure 9: MCNP and Experimental Si Dose Rates As can be seen from this figure, the MCNP results certainly display a similar relationship with the experimentally determined data. Both sets of data have similar magnitudes, but the MCNP model is consistently high, and in some cases up to 20 % higher than the expected result. With respect to the 28 UMLJUR

distance from the source, the MCNP results appear to resemble the experimental correlation shifted to the right by several cm. For example, the values of the experimental dose rates at a distance of 45 cm appear to be the results from MCNP at 50 cm. This discrepancy in dose rates is likely due to incompleteness of the geometrical model in MCNP and unspecified experimental details. For example, the cobalt rack itself only loosely fits within the holder, so its exact position is unknown. If the rack was not oriented exactly parallel to the wall as it was modeled in MCNP, this could lead to additional uncertainty. Also, when the experimental dose rates were gathered by the reactor staff, there were many structures which were present in order to hold the tablet in place, which were not modeled in MCNP. Though it is unlikely that these structures would significantly contribute to the error, it is still a consideration. Exact detail on 3-D positions of the irradiated tablet with respect to the center of the rack may also be slightly inaccurate. It was assumed that the silicon dose rates were taken at the centerline of the rack, but detailed data on the tablet’s position is unknown. Lastly, calculations in MCNP contain inherent sources of statistical error as well. A graph of these errors as a function of distance can be seen below in Figure 10. From Figure 10, we can see that the relative error ranges from 0.1% to 1.8%; hardly responsible for the 10% to 20% error seen in Figure 9. The error increases linearly with distance because the further from the source, the more uncertainty with respect to particle tracks are involved. Also, there is a noticeable dip in the error trend around 180 cm from the rack. This is the point where the mesh tally grid was changed to a coarser grid. Therefore, the region over which the data was tallied is larger, and so the uncertainty decreases. However, notice that after this point, there are now two competing forces, the coarser grid, and the growing distance from the source. So, several centimeters further from this point the error grows above the previous mark.

References 1 “MCNP/MCNPX Monte Carlo N–Particle Transport Code System Including MCNP5-1.60 and MCNPX-2.7.0 and Data Libraries,” Radia tion Safety Informational Computational Center, CCC-740 (2004) 2 See 3 “BUGLE-96-Coupled 47 Neutron, 20 Gamma-Ray Group Cross Section Library from ENDF/B-VI for LWR Shielding and Pressure Vessel Dosimetry Applications,” Radiation Safety Information Computa tional Center, DLC-185 (1996).

Figure 10: Relative Error Corresponding to MCNP Calculations

Summary As noted in the beginning of this report, a detailed MCNP model of the Gamma Irradiation Facilities at UMASS Lowell was the focus of this project. This primarily consisted of developing a working MCNP geometry, MATLAB post processing codes, and detailed gamma flux and dose rate tallies. When these results were analyzed, they showed anticipated behavior with comparable magnitudes of flux and dose rates when compared to experimentally determined values. However, these results were far from exact and thus further inspection and modification of the model will be required for the practical use of this model.


The Use and Perception of Reproductive Health Services at Umass Lowell Alexandra Beauvais, Andrea Evans, Heather Hilbert, Sarah Marquis, Allison Marsh, Julie Moran, Leland Ackerson, ScD Department of Community Health & Sustainability Background: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies are two large reproductive health issues that primarily affect college aged adults in the U.S. It is important that college aged adults have access to reproductive health services to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Aim: The purpose of this study is to research into the current utilization of Student Health Services at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and assess the perceptions students have towards these services. Methods: This cross sectional study took place at the University of Massachusetts Lowell from September through December of 2011. College students over 18 years of age were contacted through two email invitations to participate in an online survey. Results: Of surveyed students, 65.5% reported having used Student Health Services in the past. Two thirds of students responded that they would like to use Student Health Services for reproductive health needs, and 41.9% reported that they would be willing to pay out of pocket for contraception care if it was made available in the future through Student Health Services. Approximately 49.6% of students reported that they would be willing to pay out of pocket for STI screening and treatment. Of participants willing to pay out of pocket for care, the largest proportion responded that they would pay $5.00-$10.00 for contraceptive care and $10.00-$20.00 for STI screening and treatment. Conclusion: Many participants did report a willingness to use Student Health Services for both contraceptive care and STI screening and treatment.

BACKGROUND Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancy are important health issues among college students across the nation. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are an estimated 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases annually that disproportionately affect men and women aged 15 to 24. These diseases affect people of all backgrounds and economic level. With such a high level of new cases of STIs, the cost to the U.S. healthcare system is $16.4 billion dollars annually and even more for individuals who are diagnosed with an STI. The three most prevalent STIs that affect Americans are Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and Syphilis. With early diagnosis and access to care, an individual can have symptoms treated which will prevent the spread of STIs. Less than half of the people who should be screened receive recommended STI treatment services. The creation of a 30 UMLJUR

comfortable environment where students can be tested for STIs will aid in the prevention of further transmission of disease. According to the CDC, sexually active adolescents (10- to 19-year-olds) and young adults (20- to 24-year-olds) are at higher risk for getting STIs. Therefore, health providers located on college campuses should ensure they continue to educate college students about the importance of safe sex practices, including the use of contraceptives and testing for STIs. A comfortable environment may help provide students with easy or convenient methods of treatment, and provide assistance in healthy sexual behavior. Aside from the prevalence of STIs among college students, women of college age also have one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies due to a lack of knowledge regarding safe sex practices and the use of contraceptives. According to the National Prevention Information Network, it is important to provide these women with effective contraceptive options because 80% of college aged women are sexually active and do not want to be-

come pregnant. Providing a safe and welcoming resource for reproductive health services on college campuses is an important way to prevent the spread of STIs and unwanted pregnancies. Ultimately, Student Health Services (SHS) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell aims to expand their reproductive and contraceptive services. In order to improve the services they provide, SHS employees need to know the number of students that use their services, including STI testing and contraceptive care, and how their basic services can be improved. The purpose of this study is to investigate the utilization of and attitudes towards reproductive health services at SHS among University of Massachusetts Lowell students.

METHODS Study Design/ Sample Selection: This cross sectional study was done in Lowell, Massachusetts between September 2011 and December 2011. The population of interest consisted of students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell over 18 years of age. An initial email invitation was sent to all current students through the Office of the Dean of Students at the University of Massachusetts of Lowell. A reminder email was sent one week later. The email provided information on how to complete the survey, information of the purpose of the study, an embedded link for students to use to access the on-line survey, and the researcher’s contact information. When students received the survey invitation through their student email they were directed to an anonymous and confidential on-line survey Web site. Participants who were under 18 years of age or who were not currently students of University of Massachusetts Lowell were automatically screened out. Human Subject Protection: All of the researchers successfully completed on-line human subjects training programs through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative or the National Institutes of Health. The University of Massachusetts Institutional Review Board approved this research as an exempt study,

seeing as it was completely anonymous and posed less than minimal risk to participants. Incentives: The initial email invitations also contained information and details on how to register for a raffle for a chance to receive a Kindle Fire. This provided incentive and promoted participation in the study. Variables: The survey was composed in English and contained questions regarding student utilization of the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Student Health Services (See supplemental material online). These questions asked whether the student had used SHS services and the reason for the use or lack thereof. The survey also asked if the student would feel comfortable going to SHS for contraceptive services and STI treatment or testing, and the price out of pocket they would be willing to pay for each service. Finally, the survey asked what other services the participants feel should be added to health services. The survey also asked questions regarding student demographics: age, gender, year in college, living conditions, military status, and whether or not they were an international student. Data Analysis: Data was transferred from the password secured Zoomerang survey program to Microsoft Excel. The data was analyzed to provide prevalence of attitudes towards various measures of service utilization. We also conducted cross-tabulations of demographic information by service utilization.

RESULTS The majority (52.9%) of the student population surveyed was female (Table 1). Most respondents were aged 18-21 (59.7%). Although juniors made up the largest group to respond to the survey by year in school (23.0%), the responses were almost equally distributed between the four years of undergraduate and graduate students. The students who answered for the most part lived at home with UMLJUR 31

family (42.9%) or in campus dorms (33.9%). Most of the students said that they had used Student Heath Services on campus before (65.5%). Approximately 67.5% of individuals would be willing to use SHS for reproductive health needs, and 41.9% reported that they would be willing to pay out of pocket for contraception care if it was made available in the future through SHS (Table 2). The largest group of people who said they would be willing to pay out of pocket for contraceptive care said that they would be willing to pay $5.00-$10.00 (16.7%). Approximately 49.6% of students reported that they would be willing to pay out of pocket for STI screening and treatment at Student Health Services. Of the population that said they would use SHS for treatment and testing, most said they would be willing to pay $10.00-$20.00 per session.

A higher proportion of males (71.2%) than females (64.3%) stated they would be willing to use SHS for contraceptive care (Table 3). In addition, 42.9% of males and 41.3% of females stated they would be willing to pay for contraceptive care at SHS. Of those who said they would pay for contraception services, the largest proportion indicated a willingness to pay $5.00-$10.00 among males (20.5%), and $10.00-$20.00 among females (16.1%).


The overall purpose of our survey was to collect opinions from the students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell about Student Health Services. Our results were focused on reproductive health services at SHS. Of the students who participated in our survey, a majority reported they would go to SHS for reproductive health needs. A substantial portion indicated a willingness to pay at least a nominal fee for the convenience of these services.

There are some limitations to our study. Ultimately, we had a low response rate to our online survey. This would indicate that there was a potential for systematic sampling bias. Some of the respondents may have been compelled to take the survey because they had strong opinions about SHS or about reproductive health issues. Those individuals may be systematically different from those who did not take the survey, and thus the results may not accurately represent the target population. Another limitation of our study is measurement error. Sexual health can be a difficult topic for some people to discuss, whether it be publicly or privately. Some respondents may have been embarrassed about answering questions involving sexual health and reproductive services and may have intentionally answered the questions incorrectly. Currently, SHS is looking to expand the services they offer concerning reproductive health services and STI testing. SHS hopes to serve the student population better with more extensive, yet

private services. Our results show that a majority of the students at UML would use SHS for reproductive services and a substantial proportion would be willing to pay for this care. This could become a valuable service for a substantial number of people who are at high risk for sexual health issues. On the other hand, some students may still be unsure of what services are available, if the services would cost them money, and the confidentiality of such services at SHS. These are important inquiries for SHS to look into more thoroughly because students might be more likely to use SHS for reproductive services if they were aware of the services offered, their costs, and confidentiality agreements. By effectively communicating with the students about the provided services and what they would involve, SHS could increase the number of students using reproductive health services. Future research conducted by SHS could focus on increasing the response rate in the survey and improving the data-inquiry methods. In order to eliminate the noted limitations of our study, researchers leading future studies would benefit from finding better ways to gain the students’ interest about improving their provided services and promote use of SHS by the students. A research approach designed to attract students and make them feel more comfortable and open to answering such personal questions may be more effective at recruiting student participants. This study indicates that there is demand for expanded reproductive services at UMass Lowell SHS. Providing this care could play a key role in promoting the long-term health of students at the university.

REFERENCES 1 Weinstock, H., Berman, S., and Cates, W. Jr. Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2004; 36(1):6-10. 2 Chesson, H.W., Blandford, J.M., Gift, T.L., Tao, G., and Irwin, K.L. The estimated direct medical cost of sexually transmitted diseases among American youth, 2000. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2004, 36(1): 11-19. 3 National Prevention Information Network. (n.d.). STDs Today. <http://>. 4 Greydanus, D.E., Rimsza, M.E., and Matytsina, L. Contraception for college students. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2005 Feb;52(1):135-61 5Higgins, J.A., Mullinax, M., Trussell, J., Davidson, J.K. Sr., and Moore, N.B. Sexual satisfaction and sexual health among university students in the United States. Am J Public Health. 2011 Sep; 101(9):1643-54. 6Bryant, K.D. Contraceptive use and attitudes among female college students. ABNF J. 2009; 20(1):12-6.


Healthy Homes: A Cross Sectional Study of Asthma John Corbacio, Amy Delgado, MaryAnn Ford, Nicole Giaquinto, Sandra Nabanja, JaysonAnn Wright, Leland Ackerson, ScD Department of Community Health and Sustainability

Asthma is a serious health concern among older adults in Massachusetts, the age group with the highest number of deaths due to asthma. The objective of this research is to investigate the prevalence of asthma and respiratory illness as well as the presence of environmental respiratory irritants in public senior housing. A paper survey was used to collect data regarding respiratory health and the presence of respiratory irritants in the homes of individuals attending social events for seniors. The study found that a large portion of the study participants has one or more respiratory ailments, and the majority of the participants have respiratory irritants present in their homes. Seniors living in public housing may benefit from residential respiratory health interventions.

Introduction Asthma is a growing epidemic and public health concern that affects all age groups in the US. Asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by episodic wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing, affected 16.4 million adults and 7 million children in the US in 2008. Of the adults with asthma, 15.9% were aged 65 and older. National data consistently show that older adults with asthma have the second highest rate of asthma hospitalization and the highest number of deaths caused by asthma. In 2009, an estimated 8.4% of adults aged 65 and older in Massachusetts had asthma; specifically, asthma prevalence was highest among those aged 65-79 (9.5%). Of adults aged 65 and older with asthma in Massachusetts, only 1 in 5 had “well-controlled” asthma, and only 1 in 4 reported that they had ever received an asthma action plan by their healthcare provider. Unfortunately, asthma in the elderly population is frequently overlooked and may go undiagnosed. There was an annual average of 9,475 hospitalizations due to asthma in Massachusetts each year from 2006 through 2008. Nearly a quarter (23.2%) of these cases was among residents aged 65 and older. Over half of the Massachusetts asthma deaths from 2000 to 2007 were among the 65-andolder population. And although the asthma mortality rate among older adults has been declining, it 34 UMLJUR

has been consistently higher than the rate among younger Massachusetts residents. Asthma is defined as a “controllable” disease, meaning that the symptoms are unable to be cured, but rather are kept to minimum to prevent or reduce visits to the hospital. The poor health and fragility that accompanies old age may contribute to the poor diagnoses and control of the disease among the elderly. Many of this population may experience other respiratory conditions that have similar symptoms. Living conditions are a major part of the environment of the elderly, and factors in the home environment could trigger asthmatic responses. Some known respiratory irritants that can also trigger asthma attacks are tobacco smoke, mold, dust mites, pests, and pet dander, among others. This research study assesses the prevalence of respiratory illness among seniors living in public housing in Lowell, Massachusetts, as well as the presence of respiratory irritants in their homes. The goal is to collect information about the environmental conditions in the homes of seniors and aggravation of asthmatic symptoms, so that action can be taken to avoid those risk factors.

Methods Study Design/Sample Selection This cross-sectional study was conducted in Lowell, Massachusetts between September and No-

vember 2011. The population of interest consisted of seniors living in public housing. We attended eight different senior social events at different public housing locations throughout the city of Lowell. At the events, we introduced ourselves, explained our study and the goals of our study. We then invited the residents to take part in the study by completing our questionnaire. Data Collection The Asthma Risk Survey (Appendix A) was administered at 8 different senior social events held by the local housing authority. The questionnaire consists of twelve primary questions with additional sub-questions that depend on the answers to the primary questions. The questions relate to current health problems such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema. Some questions center on symptom severity, medicine use, and hospitalization related to respiratory illnesses. In addition, some questions center on common indoor respiratory irritants such as tobacco smoke, pests, mold, and cleaning chemicals. Finally, some questions center on proximate sources of outdoor air pollutants such as dry cleaners and city bus stops.

having emphysema. The most common respiratory irritant among the study participants was air fresheners at 66.7% (Table 2). Cleaning chemicals were also quite common as 68.4% of them reported to have been in contact with them. Candles were used by 49.0% of the respondents and 12.3% reported having cockroaches in their dwelling. The presence of tobacco smoke, either first or second-hand, was reported by 24.6% of the participants. The presence of other potential irritants was reported, such as mold (9.3%), mice (5.8%), and rats (1.9%).

Data Analysis The information collected from the questionnaire was transferred into Microsoft Excel for analysis. Patterns in the data were investigated to determine the prevalence of respiratory illnesses and other health correlates. The data also provide information about the prevalence of residential and environmental risk factors of asthma.

Results A total of 57 individuals participated in the survey (Table 1). Most respondents in this sample were females (56.1%). The largest portion of the respondents were aged 65 to 79 (52.6%) followed by those aged 64 or younger (26.3%), and those aged 80 years old or older (21.1%). Of this sample population 21.8% indicated that they currently have asthma, along with 20.3% having COPD and 10.2%



Participants reported various medical discomforts that they had experienced within the four weeks prior to the survey. Approximately 29.8% of the respondents had been coughing, while 24.6% had difficulty breathing. Cold symptoms were noted by 21.1% of the respondents and 22.8% reported using extra medicine due to trouble breathing. A substantial portion of the respondents had sleeping issues (12.3%), made a trip to the doctorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office (14.0%), or had tightness of the chest (14.0%). Figure 1


A high portion of the residents reported having asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and/or emphysema. A substantial portion of elderly residents also had other respiratory-related health complications. Indoor and outdoor respiratory irritants such as tobacco smoke, mold, and pests, among others, are known asthma triggers. More than half of the elderly residents in our sample reported having some kind of environmental respiratory irritant in their living space. Some of these prevalent irritants are the result of residentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; day to day activities, such as the use of cleaning chemicals and candles, while others are unintentional such as cockroaches and mold. There are several limitations to this study. The study sample was a non-random convenience sample, meaning that participants were not randomly selected. At the senior events, after hearing a brief explanation of the survey and its goals, a portion of the attendees declined to participate. If those who did not attend the events and those who declined to take the survey were systematically different from the respondents in terms of health status and exposure to respiratory irritants, then the survey results may be different from the true population values. In addition, the events at which we distributed the surveys were open to the public; therefore there may have been seniors from neighboring towns or non-public housing who participated in the survey. The residents would not have been part of the target pool, and could have potentially altered the results of the survey. In addition, the number of participants is fairly small. Therefore, the study is susceptible to random selection error. Even if the social events are typically attended by a random sample of elders living in public housing, it may be that the particular sample of recruited participants happened to be different from the rest of the population. The study would be stronger with a larger sample. Finally, prevarication bias is another obstacle in this study. If some residents did not feel comfortable revealing such personal information, they could be more likely to answer questions in

a particular way in order to avoid embarrassment. This may include such responses as incorrectly reporting that they have never had cockroaches or rats in their home or that they have never needed extra medication for asthma attacks. They may do this in an attempt to avoid judgment from the researchers, potentially resulting in undiscovered or untrue data. Our results show that more than half of the elderly residents in our sample reported having some kind of respiratory irritant in their living space. This indicates that the population may benefit from public health programs that educate the residents on making their homes free of asthma allergens. This could be done by providing programs to encourage and educate the elderly population about how to keep their apartments as free as possible from respiratory irritants and asthma triggers. The United States Environmental Protection Agency of Indoor Environments Division provides some simple practical tips to help clear the air of asthma triggers. Tips that could be taught to the residents include: washing sheets and blankets regularly with hot water, encouraging residents and their guests to quit smoking if possible and to limit all smoking to outside their apartments, and to reduce dust buildâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;up by regularly dusting with damp cloth and vacuuming carpet and fabric-covered furniture. Additionally, encouraging the residents to use sanitary food storage and garbage disposal practices could assist in reducing pests such as mice, rats, and cockroaches. This health promotion regarding improving living conditions could prove beneficial by reducing the presence of respiratory irritants in the homes of seniors. Other methods to improve indoor air quality include the use of integrated pest management (IPM) and certain structural remediations. IPM is a less toxic pest removal process than traditional extermination methods. IPM typically substitutes pesticide sprays with alternative pest control practices such as using baits or traps when possible. Also, proper ventilation of bathrooms and kitchens should be encouraged. For homes that need it, exhaust ventilation should be installed to reduce moisture buildup when cooking or showering, and to help prevent mold, cockroaches, and rats.

Further research on how to reduce the presence of respiratory irritants in the home should be pursued so that appropriate interventions can be administered accordingly. The results of this study raise further questions. For example we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fully understand the extent of the relationship between environmental respiratory irritants and respiratory illnesses. Also, exposure to respiratory irritants varies between individuals, as do the health impacts of such exposure. Since this study has a small sample, it is important to study a wider and larger sample population of seniors in public housing as well as other elderly populations. An experimental study could be pursued to further explore the connection between asthma among the elderly and environmental asthma triggers. For example, a control group of elderly public housing residents would have no intervention regarding how to control asthma allergens in their homes, and an experimental group would have an intervention that provides information on how to keep homes free of asthma triggers and also provides environmental improvements in the home. Health data before and after the intervention in both groups would be collected and studied to see if any changes occurred regarding asthma cases over time. This would be a practical way to confirm asthma prevalence among the elderly in Lowell, as well as to better understand if the triggers are controllable or not. This study would provide some insight about which asthma symptoms can be alleviated by changing oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s environment, as well as pinpoint which triggers affect asthma the most. This study would help researchers and health workers focus on interventions that target asthma triggers that impact the elderly the most.




We would like to express our thanks to David Turcotte, Susan Woskie, Emily Vidrine, and the staff and residents of Lowell Housing Authority who made this research possible.

Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma - Full Report, 2007. NIH Pub. No. 07-4051. Bethesda, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services; National Institutes of Health; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Asthma Education and Prevention Program. 2007. Available: http://www.nhlbi.nih. gov/guidelines/ asthma/asthgdln.htm. Pleis R, Lucas JW, Ward BW. Summary health statistics for US adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2008. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat. 2009; Web: Moorman J, Rudd RA, Johnson C, King M, Minor P, Bailey C, et al. National surveillance for asthma – United States, 1980-2004. MMWR: Surveillance Summaries. 2007; 56(SS08); 1-14; 18-54. Fitzsimmons K, Huisingh C, Zotter J. Asthma Among Older Adults in Massachusetts. Rep. Boston Massachusetts Department of Health, May 2011. Web. Stupka E and deShazo R. Asthma in Seniors: Part 1. Evidence for Underdiagnosis, Undertreatment and Increasing Morbidity and Mortality. The American Journal of Medicine. 2009,122: 6-11. Massachusetts Inpatient Hospital Discharge Database. MA: CY2000-2008, Massachusetts Department of Public Health Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics 2000-2007. MDPH. Accessed at MassCHIP. Moorman J, Rudd RA, Johnson C, King M, Minor P, Bailey C, et al. National surveillance for asthma – United States, 1980-2004. MMWR: Surveillance Summaries. 2007; 56(SS08); 1-14; 18-54. Gelber L, Seltzer L. “Sensitization to Dust Mites as a Dominant Risk Factor for Asthma among Adolescents Living in Central Virginia.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 1993. Web. <http://ajrccm.>.


Tobacco Related Attitudes and Behaviors among UMass Lowell Employees Christopher Mugford, Emily Merlino, Kara Bellerose, Natasha Frenzo, Stephanie Tasiopoulos, Tanja Ruhm, Leland K. Ackerson, ScD Department of Community Health and Sustainability

Overwhelming evidence indicates that smoking tobacco is hazardous to health. Smoke from tobacco products harms not only the smoker, but also others who inhale environmental tobacco smoke. In response to the health risks of smoking, many colleges and universities have changed their smoking policies to ban smoking on campus. The purpose of this study is to assess the tobacco-related attitudes and behaviors of the University of Massachusetts Lowellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s employees. A descriptive cross-sectional study was used to survey UML employee attitudes and behaviors. All UML employees were invited to take the survey via an electronic bulletin board posting. Of the survey participants, 67% were male and 33% were female. According to the results, 87% of respondents have not smoked a tobacco product in the last 30 days, and 99% have not used smokeless tobacco products in the last 30 days. A majority of the employees would like the university to implement a stricter tobacco policy (76%). These findings indicate that the universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s employees may support actions designed to modify the current smoking policy in order to reduce smoking on campus.

BACKGROUND Substantial, biological, epidemiological, pharmacological, and behavioral evidence has shown that tobacco use is deadly and that there is no safe limit to cigarette smoke exposure.1 Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are hazardous and 69 of which are known to cause cancer.1 Smoking cigarettes can cause a number of adverse health effects for the smoker. It affects nearly every organ in the body and reduces the overall health of the smoker. Some adverse health effects include, but are not limited to, different types of cancers and heart disease.2 Tobacco smoke harms not only smokers but others around them and their environment. Just like first hand smoke, there is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke, also known as passive smoking or environmental tobacco smoke.3 Even the smallest amount of second hand smoke can cause adverse health effects when inhaled. For non-smokers, breathing in second hand smoke can cause immediate effects on the cardiovascular system and increase the likelihood of a heart attack; those who already have a predisposed heart condition are especially at risk.4

Along with first and second hand smoke, smokeless forms of tobacco can be just as damaging. The two main forms of smokeless tobacco in the United States are snuff and chewing tobacco.5 Snuff is made up from ground tobacco leaves and is usually inhaled or sniffed through the nose. Chewing tobacco is another form of smokeless tobacco that is placed in the cheek and gum area. Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes and can still cause adverse health effects on the body. Some adverse health effects include cancer of the oral cavity and nicotine addiction.6 Due to intensive research that has been done on the health effects of tobacco, whether it is smoking, second hand smoking, or smokeless tobacco, many communities have enacted policies restricting tobacco use. In response to the health risks of smoking and second hand smoke, smoking bans have been placed in many public places such as parks, nightclubs, cafĂŠs, and open outdoor areas to protect bystanders. Public smoking bans have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks, particularly in younger adults and nonsmokers. Researchers find that smoking bans can reduce the number of heart attacks by as much as 26 perce per year.4 UMLJUR 39

Across the country, numerous colleges and universities have changed their policies to ban smoking on campus. The University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell) is considering updating campus tobacco-related policies. Currently, smoking is prohibited inside academic and administrative buildings, as well as 25 feet away from residence halls. In order to increase the effectiveness of any policy changes on campus, it is important to consider employee attitudes toward the policies as well as their behaviors. The purpose of this research is to assess the attitudes and behaviors regarding tobacco policy and use among the employees at UMass Lowell.

METHODS Data Collection This was a descriptive cross-sectional study surveying employees at the University of Massachusetts Lowell on a voluntary basis. The data for this study was collected through an anonymous on-line survey. The invitation to participate in this survey was delivered to employees through a posting on the on-line university communication system. The announcement was then followed up by email reminders delivered from union representatives for the labor units associated with the University. The eligibility criteria for participating in this study included being a current UMass Lowell employee aged 18 years or older. Data was collected throughout 3 weeks between October 18, 2011 and November 8, 2011. Measures After screening out ineligible participants, the survey asked questions about personal tobacco use as well as experience with othersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; tobacco use on campus (Appendix A). Additionally, there were questions about personal health as well as personal opinions of campus tobacco policies. The questionnaire that was distributed to UMass Lowell employees used questions that were modified from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Subject employment groups, as defined by positions held at the university, included faculty/librarians, classified and technical staff, teaching 40 UMLJUR

and research assistants, maintenance and trade positions, police, middle management, projects and grants, and executive employees including deans and vice chancellors. Information on gender and ethnicity was also collected. Human Subjects Protection All participants were made aware of the anonymity and confidentiality of this questionnaire before proceeding to the survey and were also informed of the general intentions of the study. This study was approved by The University of Massachusetts Lowell Institutional Review Board. Data Analysis Once all surveys were collected we analyzed the data in Microsoft Excel. We examined the demographics of the study population and reported prevalence of tobacco use and attitudes regarding university tobacco policy.

RESULTS The total number of respondents included 221 employees out of 1355 for a 16.3% response rate. Of all the survey participants approximately 33% of them were male and 67% were female (table 1).

Table 1. Demographic characteristics Table 2: Smoking and smokeless tobacco use in the previous 30 days

Of the survey respondents, 69% reported being bothered by other peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tobacco smoke outside of the buildings on campus at least occasionally (table 3). A substantial proportion indicated that they were bothered by second hand smoke at least once per week (45%). In addition, nearly half of the respondents indicated that they had been bothered by the smell of tobacco smoke inside buildings on campus. TABLE 3: Report of being bothered by second hand smoke on the UMass Lowell Campus

White respondents made up about 80% of the sample and most respondents were over the age of 39 years old. Within the past 30 days, 87% of respondents did not smoke tobacco while 4% smoked every day (table 2). Approximately 99% of the respondents did not use smokeless tobacco.


Approximately 21% of employees want to maintain the current tobacco policy at UMass Lowell (table 4). Conversely, 76% of respondents indicate that they would prefer stricter tobacco control policies. These policies range in strictness from having the university completely prohibit all tobacco use on campus (29%) to allowing tobacco use in some restricted outdoor areas (34%). TABLE 4: University tobacco policy recommendations of UMass Lowell employees

At the end of the survey we provided an open response question, which gave the opportunity for participants to share their opinions on tobacco use and policy change. The responses reflected how employees viewed tobacco use and how it relates to the university tobacco policy. Many stated that they were concerned mostly with the environmental effects, such the littering of cigarettes filters. The quality of the air was another main concern, whether it is due to inhaling smoke by walking through clouds of it to enter a building or smoke traveling indoors through open doors, windows, or ventilation systems. Many stated that although there is support and good reasoning behind changing the current policy, there are questions as to whether a new policy will be enforced because of the difficulty in enforcing the current policy as it is.


DISCUSSION The purpose of this study was to assess the feelings and behaviors towards smoking on campus, and the UMass Lowell smoking policy from the employee perspective. Our findings indicate that most of the employees at UMass Lowell do not use tobacco and have been bothered by othersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; tobacco smoke on campus. Most of the employees feel that the policy on campus should be changed to curb the use of tobacco on campus. A substantial number indicate that the current policy seems to be ignored by many of the students and employees. There are some limitations that may potentially affect our results. During this study, there was a potential selection bias. There was a low response rate to our survey. Thus, this sample may not provide a clear representation of the employee opinion regarding the campus tobacco policies. It is possible that the people who feel strongly about smoking responded because they want to ban it from the campus or have only specific areas designated for smoking. And on the other hand, the smokers, may have responded because they do not want change on campus and are speaking up to maintain the current policy so they are still able to have a cigarette, or their tobacco of choice. In addition, it may be that employees with easy access to computers during work hours, such as faculty and office staff, have had a greater opportunity to respond to the survey than those who do not, such as employees who work in maintenance. Another limitation that we may have encountered during our findings is a prevarication bias. When looking at some of the questions on the survey, people who did smoke may have intentionally not answered correctly due to the pressure of social norms. Even though they knew it was anonymous, these individuals may not have wanted to say that they had smoked at all. According to the CDC, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and smoking related deaths are expected to double by 2020.7 Tobacco-free campus policies have been shown to help protect non-smokers from second hand smoke but also improve the health of smokers as well, by reducing cigarette smoking and in-

creasing the chance of quitting among smokers.7 Universities that have enacted tobacco free policies have found that offering some kind of cessation package including gum, patch, medications or counseling can ease the policy change for those who currently smoke.7 It can also increase and continue the knowledge of the campus community and send a positive message among students, employees, and other community members. And more restrictive tobacco policies can also reduce tobacco-related health and health care costs. Our study can be used by other Universities that are considering making a change in campus tobacco policy, by getting an idea of how employees at other universities feel about the situation and can compare our results to their own results. Our results for UMass Lowell employees can only relate to the employees who responded to the survey; there are substantially more employees that work for the university who did not respond to the survey. Additional studies may be useful in addressing this issue in the future. Since some employees do not have access to a computer while working, perhaps a more effective way to conduct this survey would be to physically hand out paper surveys and have participants return them to a central location through intercampus mail. This may end up achieving a higher response rate. In conclusion, a majority of UMass Lowell employees who participated in this study support tighter controls regarding campus smoking policy. Employee attitude is an important component to considering campus policies, especially regarding those that pertain to individual behaviors like smoking. Stricter tobacco policies may potentially increase the well being of the community.

REFERENCES 1. Benjamin R. Preface from the Surgeon General, United States Health Service. 2010. In: United States Department of Health and Human Services. How tobacco smoke causes disease: the biology and behavioral basis from smoking-attributable disease. Rockville, MD: Office of the Surgeon General. 2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged ≥ 18 Years―United States, 2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2010;59(35):1135–40. 3. “WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” (PDF). World Health Organization. 2005-02-27. WHO_FCTC_english.pdf. Retrieved 2009-01-12. “Parties recognize that scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco causes death, disease and disability” World Health Organization. WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2005. 4. Institute of Medicine. Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence Exit Notification. Washington: National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, 2009. 5. Meyers DG, Neuberger JS, He J. Cardiovascular effect of bans on smoking in public places: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Journal of American College of Cardiology. 2009; 54; 1249-1255. 6. National Cancer Institute. Smokeless Tobacco or Health: An International Perspective . Bethesda: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 1992. 7. “Healthier Worksite Initiative - HWI: Toolkits: Tobacco | DNPAO | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, Nation Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 6 Jan. 2010. Web. 01 Dec. 2011. < nccdphp/dnpao/hwi/toolkits/tobacco/index.htm>.


Lowell Community Food Assesment in the Acre Tanya Behnen, Michelle DiCiaccio, Michelle Ntori, Alicia Scanlan, Kristen Slejzer,Leland Ackerson, ScD Department of Community Health and Sustainability

Background-Food insecurity, the lack of access to adequate amounts of culturally appropriate food on a regular basis, is a growing problem for communities. Food insecurity effects individuals and families and reduces their ability to function to their full potential. It lowers a person’s quality of life and increases morbidity, mortality and other health disparities. By developing a better understanding of the entire community’s access to healthy, culturally appropriate food it can improve the local food system and reduce food insecurity. Objective- To assess the food security of food stores the Acre, a neighborhood of Lowell, MA for the Lowell Food Security Coalition. Methods- An owner or manager from each of the Acre’s food stores was invited to participate in an assessment of food availability and access in food stores throughout Lowell. Data was collected from each participating store using a survey for the storeowner or manager, an environmental assessment survey, and a product inventory survey. Results- More than half of the stores rated average or above on the Environmental Assessment. Two federal assistance programs are accepted in the Acre neighborhood. Grains, dairy and meat, along with snack food, candy and soda are the top selling items. At least half of the stores carry a large amount of items within the five main food groups with prices that were deemed to be affordable. Some stores were not easily accessible by public transportation. Conclusion- Healthy foods are provided in the Acre and all main food groups are supplied with sufficient quality. However, these are not always consumer’s first choice. Nutrition education and structural changes in the food system may promote healthier food selections among residents. Updating signage and public transportation facilities may improve access to healthy foods. Linking markets with additional resources, such as certification to process WIC vouchers, may be beneficial for the whole community.

BACKGROUND The Acre is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lowell, Massachusetts. Since 1828, the Acre has been home to many of the newly settled immigrants that began arriving in Lowell during the Industrial Revolution. Some of the earliest immigrants that settled in the Acre came from England, Ireland and Scotland.¹ The Acre’s booming industry fell rapidly during the Depression in the 1930’s. Job opportunities and housing collapsed but the city has worked to adjust to a post-industrial economy. Today, the Acre is populated by a diverse range of races and ethnicities.¹ According to the 2000 Census the population of the Acre is 12,072 and the average household income is $26,326 dollars compared to the total U.S. median income of $50,046 dollars a year (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).2 44 UMLJUR

This research study is part of a larger mission to increase awareness, knowledge and engagement in all of Lowell’s neighborhoods regarding quality and access to food. To accomplish this, it is necessary to analyze the local food system to ensure that everyone has equal access to cultivate, purchase, and consume healthy and culturally appropriate food within a safe environment. It is imperative to carry out this research because of the existence of food deserts in the United States. Food deserts are locations that have “social and spatial disparities in diet and diet-related health outcomes” due to the lack of availability to healthy and affordable provisions.3 People living in food deserts are disproportionately affected by low socioeconomic status which has been shown to contribute to higher rates of morbidity, mortality and other health disparities.4 Assessing the food availability in the Acre

will allow the Lowell community to prevent low socioeconomic groups from experiencing food insecurity. Part of this process to assess the quality of the Acre’s culturally appropriate health-promoting food options for the diverse population is to evaluate local food providers in the Acre. The purpose of this project is to assess and measure the food in retail food stores in Lowell in terms of affordability, availability, accessibility, and quality.

METHODS Study Design This study is an ecologic assessment of food availability in the Acre neighborhood of Lowell, Massachusetts. This research is part of a larger community food assessment of all Lowell neighborhoods. The owner of each retail food store within the Acre neighborhood including grocery and convenience stores was invited to allow data collection from his or her store. If a storeowner was unavailable, store managers were invited instead. This representative was given a description of the purpose and the data collection involved in the study and asked to provide informed consent as a part of the recruiting process. Data Collection The data collection included all of the stores within the Acre whose owners or managers provided consent to participate. Two separate survey tools were used to assess the business itself. The first was a survey of the storeowner or manager while the second was an environmental assessment. A third tool was a product inventory to determine availability of food items.   Survey Tool 1—Owner/manager survey A self-reported paper survey was given to each retail store representative—either the owner or the manager (See supplemental material online). This survey contained questions regarding how the business decisions were made including their customer base, product purchasing and distribution, and the acceptance of any federal food assistance programs.

Survey Tool 2—Environmental assessment Trained evaluators conducted an environmental assessment. The assessment was conducted with the aid of a standardized tool listing aspects of the environment that were considered theoretically relevant for accessing food (See supplemental material online). This assessment measured the convenience and accessibility of the area surrounding the stores. This included items such as availability of sidewalks, bus stops and parking, as well as visible signage providing information about store hours and what forms of federal food assistance programs such as WIC and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) are accepted at the store. Each item was scored based on a scale of 1 through 5, one being the worst and five the best. The availability of each amenity was reported as yes or no. Survey Tool 3—Product Inventory Evaluators trained to identify product quality, quantity, and availability carried out a product inventory of the different food groups found in the store. The inventory was conducted with the aid of a standardized tool listing types of foods that were determined to be important for maintaining a healthy diet (See supplemental material online). The food items that were measured included fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, meats, culturally appropriate foods, and miscellaneous food items. The culturally appropriate foods refer to any product used in ethnic meals non-specific to one ethnicity. The miscellaneous food items were chosen based on foods found in an average household that are not specific to a particular food group. Availability was determined by whether or not the food was present and, if so, how much and how many varieties were present. A measure of sufficiency was determined, and if the food category had at least three different food options, it was deemed sufficient. Quality was measured by the foods’ physical qualities such as size, appearance, texture, and odor, on a scale of 1 through 5 with one being the worst and five the best. Also, the lowest available and highest available prices were recorded for each item on the list as well as the brands responsible for the price differences. UMLJUR 45

RESULTS Of the ten food stores in the Acre neighborhood of Lowell, Massachusetts, seven had owners or managers who agreed to participate in this research. These stores included 4 grocery stores and 3 convenience stores (Table 1). Approximately half of these stores offered parking facilities and sidewalks to allow easy access to their locations. Federally accepted programs were available in some stores with only 4 stores accepting SNAP and 2 stores accepting WIC. Table 1. Environmental Assessment

Table 2. Standard Food Quality and Price

Of the food groups that were investigated, the most commonly available groups were vegetables and meat which were carried in over 70% of the stores (Figure 1). Fruits, grains and dairy were the least available food items which were carried in fewer than 60% of the stores. Figure 1. Stores Offering a Sufficient Amount of Health Promoting Foods

Prices for numerous items were examined in the seven food stores. The most frequently available item for each of five food typesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;fruit, vegetable, bakery items, dairy, and meatâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;are presented in Table 2. These common food items are bananas, carrots, bread, milk, and beef. Most foods showed a price range in which the most expensive food was approximately three times as expensive as the least expensive food. For example, the least expensive bananas were $0.39 per pound while the most expensive bananas were $0.94 per pound.


When asked what the 5 most selling products are, the most common response from store owners and managers was soda with over 70% of respondents reporting this (Figure 2). Snack foods & candy was tied with bread, cereals & grains, and dairy & eggs with approximately 60% of respondents reporting them to be a top selling item. Just over 40% of respondents reported that meat was a top selling item.

DISCUSSION This study was intended to assess the availability and accessibility of food within the Acre in Lowell MA. There were 4 grocery stores and 3 convenience stores assessed within this study. The data lead us to understand that healthy foods are provided in the Acre and all the main food groups are supplied with sufficient quality. Most environmental facilities were sufficient such as crosswalks, sidewalks, and parking. However bus stop locations were found insufficient. A majority of the stores accepted EBT /Food stamps/ SNAP but other forms such as WIC were not as accepted. The five most popular selling items bought within the Acre are cereal, breads & grains, dairy & eggs, meat, snack food & candy, and soda. The one that was identified by most of the stores that was in the top five selling items was soda. Prices of the foods in the Acre were affordable at most stores, but the price ranges in the Acre were significant.

Figure 2. Top 5 Selling Items There were a few potential limitations that the group faced while collecting and interpreting results. One potential limitation was due to the fact each person collecting data could have had their own perspective for the definition of quality or sufficiency which could create inconsistency between rates. For example during the collection of data for the product inventory, there was a section rating the sufficiency of products from 1-5, 1 being

the lowest and 5, the highest. Due to the qualitative nature of this data collection there may have been some inconsistency in rating foods in terms of quantity and quality. Care was taken to train the raters before they began work and also to create general standards to make ratings as uniform as possible between data collectors. However, there may have been cases where ratings deviated between individuals. Another limitation was that comparing prices of produce and meat between stores was difficult. Some stores charged by weight and others charged by packaging which could create error in recording cost comparisons. This could cause confusion in determination of the quantity of a product that is necessary in order to be considered sufficient or insufficient. Language barriers were another limitation in this study. Staff members at a few of the stores in the Acre spoke different languages which made it difficult to collect data. Language and cultural barriers may have also caused store owners to refuse

collaboration due to assumed reasons of intrusions or misunderstanding of the importance or motive for the study. To address this limitation, translators were provided during the data-collection procedures for several of the stores, allowing the study to be completed. Finally, some of the food that was found in Acre contributed to the overall amount of culturally appropriate food for the larger population of Lowell, in specific residents of Asian descent. However UMLJUR 47

other foods that were found in the Acre were those of a more popular American culture due to the fact that they might be the more profitable products. Considering that Lowell has been characterized in previous work as a food desert it was very compelling to see the amount of available food within the Acre. However the accessibility and variety seems to be the larger issue. Since stores buy food based on demand it seems reasonable that they supply soda and snack foods to meet customer requests, considering store owners reported those as their top selling items. These results are very important because it could be used in creating accessibility of diversity in food security for the population in Lowell. The city could use this to determine the importance of the people being able to access healthy, culturally affordable foods. This research can further be used by local authorities in order to create a community of residents without food insecurities by providing bus stops closer to food stores, working with store owners to accept all federally funded food stamps, involving store owners in providing healthy foods for the people, and creating an overall more affordable access to food for the population. This study could also be used as a nationwide model in order to better understand the overall food insecurities across the United States population. This study could enhance the understanding of how to better offer healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate foods across the country. Implementing a food system in which all people in each neighborhood can access healthy and affordable food would be a major step in reducing chronic health conditions such as obesity, hypertension, and cancer, which could make for a healthier overall population in the United States.

CONCLUSION: This study found adequate quantities of food at reasonable prices, there may be a lack of access to food within the Acre neighborhood of Lowell due to a lack of visible bus stops, efficient crosswalks, and federally accepted programs. This 48 UMLJUR

information can be used to reduce food insecurity by increasing the access and availability of food within the Lowell community.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: We would like to recognize and thank Lydia Sisson, the Project Manager of the Lowell Food Security Coalition, for all her time and assistance throughout this project.

REFERENCES: 1. City of Lowell, MA. (October, 2011). Acre. Retrieved from 2. U.S Census Bureau. (2000). Census 2000 Demographic Profile Highlights. Retrieved from 3. Beaulac, Julie. (July, 2009). A Systematic Review of Food Deserts, 19662007. Center for Disease Control: Preventing Chronic Diseases. Retrieved from 4. Walker, Renee. (April, 2010). Disparities and access to healthy food In the United States: A review of food deserts literature. Health & Place.

The Effect of Fabric Softeners on Disinfection by the AVT MondoVap 2400

Erica C. Nou, Dan Warden, Robert DeMatteo, Jason Marshall ScD, Nancy Goodyear PhD Department of Clinical Laboratory and Nutritional Sciences The MondoVap 2400 with TANCS® Technology (Advanced Vapor Technologies, Everett, WA) is a saturated steam vapor system for sanitation and cleaning various surface types in homes, schools, and other institutions. This high temperature (~240°F at nozzle tip), low moisture (5 – 6% water) system requires no chemicals, only tap water. The device has been shown to be effective at disinfecting a wide range of microorganisms, including C. difficile spores and MS2 bacteriophage, a non-enveloped virus surrogate. The recommended procedure when using the larger cleaning attachments is to wrap the tool head with a cotton towel and to launder towels with laundry detergent, but without fabric softener. Users may not follow this recommendation. The purpose of this project was to compare the performance of cotton and microfiber towels when washed without fabric softener, with liquid fabric softener, and with dryer sheets. Separate groups of cotton towels and microfiber cloths were laundered 10 times using a standard household washer and dryer. One set of each was laundered with only laundry detergent, a second set with liquid fabric softener, and a third set with dryer sheets. Towels from each group were tested for their ability to kill E. coli (ATCC 21214) on stainless steel coupons. Coupons were cleaned for 5 seconds using the towel-wrapped triangular tool head. All tests resulted in a minimum 5 log reduction with 100% kill. Laundering cotton or microfiber towels with liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets had no impact on disinfection by the AVT MondoVap 2400.

INTRODUCTION Traditional disinfectants have been strongly linked with respiratory and skin irritation. Occupational asthma is higher in those with extensive exposure to disinfectants than in the general population, especially health-care workers and cleaning professionals (1 - 3). Many users are interested in replacing toxic chemicals with greener alternatives, however, here is little data supporting the ability of many green cleaners to kill bacteria. The MondoVap 2400 with TANCS® Technology (Advanced Vapor Technologies, Everett, WA) is a saturated steam vapor system for sanitation and cleaning various surface types in homes, schools, and other institutions. It uses only tap water to produce steam vapor at a high temperature (~240°F at nozzle tip), but with low moisture content (5 – 6% water). The MondoVap has been shown to be effective at disinfecting a wide range of microorganisms, including C. difficile spores and MS2 bacteriophage, a non-enveloped virus surro-

gate (4, 5). These tests were performed under ideal laboratory conditions, following the manufacturer’s recommended procedure at all steps. While this type of testing is necessary, it is also important to evaluate the impact of mistakes people are likely to make in real-world use. The recommended procedure when using the larger cleaning attachments is to place a foam filler pad inside the tool head, then wrap the tool with a cotton towel. Towels should be laundered towels with laundry detergent, but without fabric softener. Users who routinely use fabric softeners may not follow this recommendation, and they may not use a towel or filler pad at all. In addition, microfiber is widely believed to pick up dirt more effectively than cotton, and many users will have microfiber cloths already. The overall goal of this project was to test the ability of the MondoVap to kill Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus when users deviated from the manufacturer’s instructions by using cotton and microfiber towels laundered correctly, with liquid fabric softener, with dryer sheets, with a filler pad and no towel, UMLJUR 49

and with a towel but no filler pad. This paper reports a portion of the project, including the impact of cotton and microfiber towels laundered 3 ways on killing of E. coli on a stainless steel surface.

MATERIALS AND METHODS Materials The MondoVap 2400 with TANCS® Technology unit, along with cotton towels, filler pads and all necessary tools and attachments, were supplied by Advanced Vapor Technologies (Edmonds, WA). Quickie Clean Results microfiber cloths were purchased commercially (Quickie Mfg. Corp., Cinnaminson, NJ). Escherichia coli ATCC 21214 was purchased from the American Type Culture Collection (Manassas, VA). Tryptic soy agar and tryptic soy broth were purchased from Becton, Dickinson, and Co. (Sparks, MD). Laundering of towels Separate sets of cotton towels and microfiber cloths were laundered 10 times using a Bosch Nexxt 500 Series front-loading high efficiency household washer, with hot water on the Regular/ Cotton cycle (BSH Home Appliances Corporation, Irvine, CA). All towels were dried using a Bosch Nexxt 500 Series household dryer on the Regular/ Cotton Cycle, very dry setting. One set of each was laundered with only Seventh Generation Natural 2X Concentrated Laundry Detergent Free and Clear (Seventh Generation, Burlington, VT). The second set was laundered with the addition of Ultra Downey Free and Sensitive liquid fabric softener, and the third set was dried with Bounce Free and Sensitive dryer sheets (both Proctor & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH). Experimental Protocol The experimental procedure was adapted from industry standard protocols (6, 7). In brief, an overnight culture of E. coli was standardized to ~12 x 108 colony forming units (CFU)/mL spectrophotometrically (Absorbance 0.669, 4 McFarland). Ten μL of the standardized culture were spotted onto stainless steel coupons and air-dried 50 UMLJUR

at 37ºC. Coupons were cleaned for 5 seconds using the towel-wrapped triangular tool head. Cleaned coupons were placed in 15 mL phosphate buffered saline (PBS) and mixed on a wrist action shaker for 5 minutes to ensure complete removal of any residual microorganisms from the coupon. PBS aliquots were serially diluted and spread plated on tryptic soy agar. After overnight incubation, colony counts were performed. Colony counts were converted to CFU/mL and log surviving bacteria. The difference between the CFU/mL and log of the positive control and test coupons was calculated to achieve the log reduction and percent kill. Each test was performed in triplicate and positive (unclean) and negative (sterile) control coupons were tested with each run. Runs with failed positive and negative controls or excessive contaminating colonies were discarded.

RESULTS All runs achieved 100% kill of organisms. The variation in log reduction represents variation in the number of organisms spotted to the coupons from run to run.


Approaches to disinfection, whether chemically based or not, generally must be performed according to the manufacturers’ instructions to guarantee performance. However, users don’t always read or follow the directions. In addition to performance testing under ideal conditions, it is important to consider what real-world users may do wrong in order to determine the impact on performance. Fabric softeners are commonly used to soften the feel of fabrics, improve ironing performance, increase stain resistance, and to reduce static electricity. Fabric softeners are generally not recommended for cotton towels as they tend to decrease water absorption. For microfiber towels, the coating of the fibers prevents them from picking up dirt particles. Despite these recommendations, fabric softeners are popular and those who use them are likely to use them with all laundry loads and not just clothing. When evaluating disinfectants, the industry standard requires demonstration of a 5 log reduction of bacterial load. In this study, a minimum of a 5 log reduction of E. coli was obtained in all experiments. There was no difference in performance between cotton and microfiber cloths, whether laundered without fabric softener, with liquid fabric softener, and with dryer sheets. Because the MondoVap system uses only tap water to create high temperature, low moisture steam, it can be considered a safer, green alternative to traditional chemical disinfectants. The unit is easy to use, and while it requires an up front investment, eliminating the ongoing costs of chemicals should save money in the long run. In order to fully evaluate the MondoVap, further experiments should include laundering microfiber and cotton cloths together, additional infectious agents, and additional surfaces including irregular surfaces such as doorknobs and children’s toys.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT This work was partially funded by Advanced Vapor Technologies (Everett, WA) and by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (Lowell, MA)

REFERENCES 1. Arif AA, Delclos GL. Association between cleaning-related chemicals and work-related asthma and asthma symptoms among healthcare professionals. Occup Environ Med 2012;69(1):35-40. 2. Vizcaya D, Mirabelli MC, Antó JM, Orriols R, Burgos F, Arjona L, Zock JP. A workforce-based study of occupational exposures and asthma symptoms in cleaning workers. Occup Environ Med 2011;68(12):914-9. 3. Zock JP, Plana E, Jarvis D, Anto JM, Kromhout H, Kennedy SM, Kunzli N, Villani S, Olivieri M, Toren K. et al. The use of household cleaning sprays and adult asthma: an international longitudinal study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007;176:735–741. 4. Tanner BD. Reduction in infection risk through treatment of microbially contaminated surfaces with a novel, portable, saturated steam vapor disinfection system. Am J Infec Control 2009;37:20 – 7. 5. Sexton JD, Tanner BC, Maxwell SL, Gerba CP. Reduction in the microbial load on high-touch surfaces in hospital rooms by treatment with a portable saturated steam vapor disinfection system. Am J Infec Control 2011;39:65562. 6. US Environmental Protection Agency. Microbiology laboratory antimicrobial testing methods and procedures. Available from: pesticides/methods/atmpa2z.htm Accessed March 15, 2012. 7. ASTM E1153-03(2010 )e1. Standard Test Method for Efficacy of Sanitizers Recommended for inanimate Non-Food Contact Surfaces, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2010.


Youth Violence within the Lowell Community Erica C. Nou, Linda Tran, Joy Eldoueihi, Katelyn Keefe, Jennifer Gonzalez, Hadeel AlSarabi, Leland Ackerson, ScD Department of Community Health and Sustainability

Background: Youth violence is a major problem in the United States. In 2007, nearly 6,000 young people aged 10 to 24 were murdered. Violence that affect youth includes domestic violence, sexual violence, physical violence and bullying. The focus of this study is to investigate the patterns of youth violence in Lowell, Massachusetts. Methods: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study of Lowell residents aged 14 to 24. Data was collected through a voluntary and anonymous online survey from October to November 2011.Informational survey fliers were distributed by staff members at the LCHC Teen Coalition and their partners in order to promote the survey. Results: There were 63 total participants in the survey. The data indicate that 36.5% had their property stolen or damaged, 12.7% got into a physical fight, and 50.8% felt affected by violence within the Lowell community. Discussion: Violence is a significant issue in Lowell Community. Youth violence awareness is crucial to help prevent as much violence as possible in the future for younger generations in Lowell.

BACKGROUND Youth violence is an important problem in the United States. In 2007, nearly 6,000 young adults (ages 10 to 24) were murdered â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which averaged to 16 per day. Juveniles accounted for 16% of all violent crime arrests in 2009, while homicide is the second leading cause of death for youths ages 10-24.1 Of homicide victims between the ages of 10 and 24 years old, 84% were killed with a firearm.2 School related violence is also highly prevalent in the United States. Between the years 1996 and 2006, school associated homicides included stabbing/cutting (27%), gunshot wounds (65%) and beating (12%).3 In 2009, the violent crimes arrest rates reached 519.6 arrests per 100,000 population for males, and 118.5 arrests per 100,000 for females, aged 10-14 years. 4 There are many other aspects of violence besides fighting and physical violence. Violence can include bullying in person, over the internet, threatening someone, and forced sexual activity. Domestic violence also affects a large population of young people. In a survey distributed nationwide by the CDC, 9.8% of high school students reported that they have been hit, physically hurt, or 52 UMLJUR

slapped on purpose by their significant other within the past year.2 According to the CDC, intimate partner violence results in 2 million injuries among women, an estimated 1,200 deaths and around 600,000 injuries among men.5 Youth violence can hinder a person from prospering and being an active member in their community. Adolescents who experienced physical dating violence are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, unhealthy weight control, risky sexual behaviors and attempting or considering suicide.6 Adolescents who carry out violent acts are also more likely to engage in other risky and criminal behavior, such as using drugs, having unprotected sex, driving without caution and carrying weapons.7 In the state of Massachusetts, there were 5,983 reported assault cases from the years 2001 to 2007 affecting ages 15-24. Lowell accounted for 2% of these reported cases.8 It is important to monitor the experiences that youths are going through in Lowell. By focusing on this specific group, service providers will be able to see what areas require the most attention and how to prevent violence from occurring in the future. The focus of this study is to investigate the patterns of youth violence in Lowell, Massachusetts.

METHODS Data Collection: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study of youth and young adults between the ages of 14 and 24 who were residents of Lowell. The data was collected through a voluntary and anonymous online survey. To recruit participants for the survey, informational fliers were distributed by staff members at the LCHC Teen Coalition and their partners such as United Teen Equality Center, Big Brother Big Sister, Boys & Girls Club, the YMCA, and the CTI Youth Build. Measures: Participants who were not in the age range or did not live in Lowell were screened out of the data collection, since they were not the intended audience. The survey asked about experiences with different types of violence (Appendix A). Various questions were asked such as if the individuals have carried a weapon, been involved in domestic abuse with a loved one, have been humiliated or insulted in front of others, and if they have been threatened within the past year. Questions about rape and fighting were also asked. The survey ended with questions asking about being bullied in person or online, and if the participants feel affected by violence that is happening within their community. These questions were based on similar questions from the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.9 Human Subjects Protection: To protect the participants, we designed the surveys to be completed anonymously on-line. No identifying information, such as name, date of birth, or address was asked, keeping the participant completely anonymous. We provided assurances that the survey was voluntary and that the participants could stop taking the survey at any time. Because the topic of violence may make some individuals uncomfortable, we provided contact information for local social and medical service providers specializing in counseling victims of violence during and after the survey. This study protocol was ap-

proved by the University of Massachusetts Lowell Institutional Review Board. Statistical Analysis: Data was analyzed using Microsoft Excel. We presented information about the prevalence of reported violence in youth communities in Lowell and observed the variations of bullying and violence by demographic characteristics.

RESULTS There were 63 total participants in the survey (Table 1). About 46% of the respondents were males, 52% were females and one participant did not identify as either gender. The majority of the participants (63%) were between the ages of 14 and 17. Also, 76% of the respondents were Asian. Table 1: Demographic Characteristics of the Sample of Lowellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Youth


Table 2 shows that 3.2% of the youth in Lowell carried a weapon during the past 30 days. In the past 12 months, 4.8% were threatened or injured with a weapon, 36.5% had their property stolen or damaged, 12.7% got into a physical fight, 4.8% were physically hurt by an intimate partner, and 3.2% were humiliated or insulted by an intimate partner. In addition, 9.5% of the Lowell youth sample had been physically forced to have sexual intercourse, 12.7% were bullied in person and electronically, and 50.8% felt affected by violence within the Lowell community.

Table 3: Experiences of being bullied within different descriptive characteristics

Table 2: Reports of Violence

Table 4 shows that in the past 12 months, 37.9% of male and 36.4% of females youth in Lowell have had their property stolen or deliberately damaged, such as their car, clothing or books. Property loss or damage was reported by 35.4% of Asian participants, 16.7% of Black participants, and 66.7% of White participants. Property loss or damage was also reported by 40.0% of those aged 14-17, 37.5% of those aged 18-20, and 26.7% of those aged 21-24. Table 3 indicates that bullying occurs in higher percentages of females than males, 21.2% and 3.4% respectively. A total of 33.3% of those reporting being of white race had experienced bullying and 10.4% of Asians experienced bullying. Between ages 14 and 17, 15% of the participants experienced bullying and the percentages were lower among older age groups.


Table 4: Experiences of having property stolen or damaged

DISCUSSION There are many forms of violence, and from our data we have seen that many young people in Lowell have been a victim of violence either directly or indirectly. Some of the most important direct violence results we obtained were: high prevalence of having property stolen or damaged, getting bullied, and sexually assaulted. In all, about half of the participants reported feeling affected by violence. There were several limitations of this study. The first one was a small sample size. There were only 63 participants in the study and that could lead to inaccurate results. This study may not have adequate power to accurately predict rates of violence in the community or investigate trends in experience of violence among different demographic groups. Another limitation is that the study used a non-random convenience sample, which may not be representative of the youth of Lowell. The participants were recruited by distributing fliers to participate in the voluntary survey through the

LCHC; as a result, adolescents who take a part in the LCHCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s programs were more likely than others in the community to hear of and have the chance to participate in this survey. In addition, because it was a voluntary survey, most likely people who are interested in this topic would participate in the study. In fact, data from the 2000 US Census indicate that that people of Asian race compose 19.5% of the Lowell population aged 15-25.10 Since the results from this study show that the Asian race composed 76.2% of the participants this provides some evidence that the sample from this survey does not accurately represent the youth population of Lowell. An additional threat to the validity of this study is prevarication bias. Violence is a sensitive subject where people may be guarded and might be reluctant to report the information that is asked during the survey. For example; being sexually abused can be a humiliating experience for a victim, and it often goes unreported, since it is thought of as a taboo subject. If individuals with this experience did not wish to disclose this information, even to an anonymous on-line survey, it may affect the results of this study. There were high reports of stolen or damaged property over a span of 12 months. Property damage can be inconvenient in itself. It can also represent an underlying undercurrent of violence in a community that may create unease among the residents who live there. Bullying is also a prevalent occurrence in this community. We observed that female youth are more likely to report being bullied than males. This could be due to the fact that male youth could have a different perception of what constitutes bullying compared to females. A majority of respondents indicated that they feel affected by violence in the community. This was not expected since it appears that far fewer reported being a victim of violence acts. It is possible that individuals feel affected by violence that they hear about in the community that occurs to a neighbor or friend, even if they themselves are not impacted. For example, an individual may decide not to leave home at night or visit a particular park UMLJUR 55

or neighborhood for fear of violence even if not directly impacted by violence. It is important to see how young people in Lowell are affected by violence. These data indicated that youth violence is a substantial issue in Lowell. Programs and organizations that provide services to teens may be key in bringing down youth violence rates in the community. Youth violence awareness is crucial to prevent as much violence as possible in the future for younger generations in Lowell. This study provides an impetus for future research. To improve on the current study, future research should use a larger and randomly-recruited sample to accurately represent the population. A further study that could be developed from this pilot study is to create a community based program for youth violence and assess the success of this program. The results of this study may have low generalizability to other populations. Because of the limited number of participants and the possibility of under-reporting, it is preferable to create a crosssectional study with a larger and more randomized sample. This study was focused on the Lowell community, specifically youths between the ages 14 and 24, therefore the results are not applicable to other communities, age brackets, or ethnicities. Our cross-sectional study described the prevalence of violence among young people within the Lowell community. There were significant reports of feeling affected by violence, having property stolen or damaged, being bullied, and assaulted. This study should help in raising awareness about teen violence and creating programs that would help reduce the problem.

Acknowledgments We are appreciative of the efforts of Linda Sou, Stephanie Buchholz, and the rest of the team at the Lowell Community Health Center Teen Coalition that helped us throughout this study.


REFERENCES 1.Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Violence: Facts at a Glance. Violence Prevention. 2010. 2. CDC [internet]. Atlanta: Center for Disease Control and Prevention; c 2010 [updated 2010 October 7; cited 2011 November 9]. Teen Dating Violence; [about 3 screens]. Available from: 3. Center for Disease Control and prevention. School-Associated Student Homicides â&#x20AC;&#x201C; United States, 1992-2006. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2008 January 18; 57(02): 33-36. 4. CDC [internet]. Atlanta: Center for Disease Control and Prevention; c 2011 [updated 2011 April 15; cited 2011 November 9]. Youth Violence: National Statistics; [about 1 screen]. Available from: . 5. MC Black, MJ Breiding. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Adverse Health Conditions and Health Risk Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence - United States, 2005. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2008 February 8; 57(05): 113-117. 6. Silverman J., Raj A., Mucci L., Hathaway J. Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality. JAMA. 2001; 286(5):572-579. 7. NIH [internet]. Bethesda: Medline Plus a service of the U.S National Library of Medicine; c 2010 [updated 2011 November 18; cited 2011 November 9]. Teen Violence; [about 4 screens]. Available from: http://www.nlm.nih. gov/medlineplus/teenviolence.html. 8. MassCHIP database. Massachusetts Youth Violence 2001-2007. Boston: Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 2009. 9. CDC [internet]. Atlanta: Center for Disease Control and Prevention; c 2011 [updated 2011 May 31; cited 2011 November 9]. Questionnaires and Item Rationales; [about 1 screen]. Available from: healthyyouth/yrbs/questionnaire_rationale.htm.. 10. U.S. Census Bureau [internet]. Summary File-2; Year 2000 Data for Lowell, MA. Accessed at xhtml on December 12, 2011.

Glycan Profiling of A Fusion Glycoprotein Product Rutwik Patel Deparment of Chemistry

Glycans are known to affect protein structure and function. Sialic acid is one such glycan located at the terminal end of the carbohydrate chain, glycosylated to the fusion glycoprotein product. The sialic acid content in the fusion glycoprotein product was analyzed from different batches. Then, optimization of the reproducibility for such sialic acid assay was done. An efficient reversed phase HPLC technique for sialic acid detection by labeling the sialic acid with o-phenylene diamine (OPD) and examining the fluorescent character of the resulting derivativized sialic acid was developed. Once the sialic acid was detected, its ratio in the entire glycoprotein was carried out by preparation of a standard curve. When the procedure was repeated again, the results demonstrated reasonable reproducibility. However, in order to address some minor problems regarding a small reproducibility discrepancy in one of the batches, the experiment will be repeated.

INTRODUCTION The primary structure of a protein is made up of long amino acid sequences connected through amide linkage. This sequence undergoes local stabilization via a variety of non-covalent interactions. These non-covalent interactions include hydrogen bonding, hydrophobic interactions, electrostatic interactions and ionic bonding. These interactions result in the formation of a secondary structure. Secondary structures primarily include alpha helices and beta sheets. Then, the protein undergoes long range interactions primarily involving disulfide bond formation between two cysteines. These interactions result in the tertiary structure of a protein. Two such proteins can interact between them and can form a quaternary structure of a protein. Glycoproteins are proteins that contain oligosaccharide chains (glycans) covalently attached to polypeptide side-chains. The carbohydrate is attached to the protein as a result of cotranslational or posttranslational modifications. This process is known as glycosylation. Glycosylation is of two types: O-linked glycosylation and N-linked glycosylation. In O-linked glycosylation, the addition of sugar chains can happen on the hydroxyl oxygen on the side chain of serine or threonine. In case of N-linked glycosylation, the addition of sugar

chains can happen on the amide nitrogen present on the asparagine side chain. It follows a consensus sequence of Asp-[X]-Ser/Thr, where X can be any amino acid except proline. The fusion glycoprotein used in this experiment exhibits N-linked glycosylation. The fusion glycoprotein is comprised of naturallyâ&#x20AC;?occurring protein structures that selectively binds to complement activated cells and locally regulates the complement system through Complement Factor - H. The fusion glycoprotein is being developed as a potential treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and some immuneâ&#x20AC;?related renal and hematology diseases. However, the glycan structure in the glycoprotein can vary based on different manufacturing processes. This varying glycan structure can affect protein structure and function, as well as pharmacokinetics. As a result, it is essential to analyze the glycan structure in order to ensure the process consistency. So, it is essential to study different glycans within this protein and determine a mole ratio of each glycan to the entire protein. Sialic acid is one such glycan. The two common kinds of sialic acids are N-acetylneuraminic acid (NANA) and N-glycolylneuraminic acid (NAGA). Sialic acids are 9-C oligosaccharides linked through glycosidic linkage with other glycans. In case of the protein in discussion, it is the terminal glycan in the carbohydrate UMLJUR 57

chain. In this experiment, NANA would be the primary focus. In this experiment, cleavage of the terminal glycan from the sugar chain of our fusion glycoprotein would be performed. Then, a mole ratio of NANA present in the fusion glycoprotein would be calculated.

METHODOLOGY Firstly, 200 µg of the fusion glycoprotein was mixed with 0.05 mL of RODI water. Then, 0.05 mL of 0.5 M NaHSO4 was added to this solution. The mixture was heated at 80oC for 20 minutes (glycan cleavage). Meanwhile, 11.9 mg/mL of the ophenylene diamine (OPD) reagent was prepared. This was done by adding 11.9 mg of OPD in 0.5 mL RODI water and 0.5 mL of 0.25 M NaHSO4. Once, the fusion glycoprotein mixture was heated, it was allowed to cool down to room temperature. Then, 0.1 mL of 11.9 mg/mL OPD reagent was added to the fusion glycoprotein mixture. The resulting mixture was again heated at 80oC for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, the mixture was allowed to cool down to room temperature. The volume of the resulting mixture was brought to 1 mL using HPLC solvent A, and was mixed vigorously with a vortex mixer. The vial containing 1 mL of the resulting solution was placed in a micro centrifuge at 10,000g for five minutes. After five minutes, the supernatants were transferred to injection vials for HPLC analysis. Injections of 50 µL were made for HPLC analysis. The standard used for this experiment was N-acetylneuraminic acid. Figure 1 shows the OPD labeling of sialic acid (NANA) [1]: The OPD derivatives of sialic acids were separated using a reversed phase HPLC technique (Waters 2796 bio-separation module). The nonpolar stationary phase used for this experiment was a C18 hydrophobic column (Waters Symmetry C18 3.5 µm column (4.6 x 150 mm)). The mobile phase A used for this experiment was a mixture of 1% THF, 0.50% Phosphoric acid and 0.15% butyl amine in RODI water. The mobile phase B used for this experiment was a mixture of 50% Solvent A and 50% acetonitrile [1]. The detector used for this 58 UMLJUR

Figure 1. OPD labeling on sialic acid process was a Waters 2475 Fluorescence detector. The fluorescence detector will effectively be able to detect the OPD derivativized sialic acid. A gradient of 87% A and 13% B was used for the experiment. Then onwards, we used 100% B for the purpose of elution. The excitation wavelength for this process was 230 nm and the emission wavelength was 425 nm [1]. The PMT gain was set to be 1 over the course of the experiment. The chromatographic data was collected using Empower Pro software. This HPLC technique and sample preparation method was adapted based on a similar experiment carried out by another group [1]. However, a lot of modifications were also made. For this experiment, a standard curve was prepared for standards varying from 25 ng/mL to 200 ng/mL. The standard curve prepared was a curve of the integrated peak area versus the nmoles of NANA. Then, the procedure was repeated for the fusion glycoprotein. Again the peak area for each batch was determined by integrating the peak of OPD labeled NANA elution. The resulting peak area was put in the equation derived for the standard curve to calculate the nmoles of NANA in our fusion glycoprotein. This was critical in determining the NANA content in the fusion glycoprotein.

RESULTS For the first trial of the experiment, the following chromatograms shown in figure 2 were obtained for the standard curve:

Graph 1. Standard curve plotted for trial 1

Figure 2. Chromatograms of standards for trial 1 Once the peaks were determined, the peak area was integrated. A table showing the peak area and nmoles of NANA in our standards was also constructed. Table 1 below shows the peak area and nmoles of NANA determined in our standards for trial 1:

After the construction of the standard curve, the chromatogram for each batch was determined. There were six different batches namely Ref, TOX 001, TOX 002, TOX 003, 10MM-012 and 10008 respectively. Figure 3 below shows the chromatograms for different batches of our fusion glycoprotein over trial 1:

Table 1. Peak area and nmoles of NANA determined in our standards for trial 1

A graph of peak area versus nmoles was also plotted. Graph 1 below shows the standard curve plotted for trial 1:

Figure 3. Chromatograms of different batches of the fusion glycoprotein for trial 1


The nmoles of NANA in the different batches for trial 1 can be determined based on the equation obtained from the standard curve: Peak Area = 107 (nmoles) - 6333.1 [1] Using the above equation and the peak area of each batch obtained through integration, we can determine a relative mole ratio of the NANA content in each batch. Table 2 below shows the relative NANA content in our fusion glycoprotein determined for each batch in trial 1: Table 2. Relative NANA content in our fusion glycoprotein for each batch in trial 1

In order to optimize our samples for reproducibility, the same procedure was repeated in triplets. For this procedure, three separate triplets were prepared for each standard as well as each batch. The chromatograms obtained for standard curve resembled the following peaks. Figure 4 below shows the chromatograms of NANA standards for trial 2:

Once the peaks were determined, the peak area was integrated. A table showing the peak area and nmoles of NANA in our standards was also constructed. Table 3 below shows the average peak area (from three trials) and nmoles of NANA determined in our standards for trial 2: Table 3. Average peak area and nmoles of NANA determined in our standards for trial 2

A graph of average peak area versus nmoles was also plotted. Graph 2 below shows the standard curve plotted for trial 2:

Graph 2. Standard curve plotted for trial 2 After the construction of the standard curve, the chromatogram for each batch was determined. Figure 5 shows the average reasonable chromatograms for different batches of our fusion glycoprotein over trial 2:

Figure 4. Chromatograms for NANA standards for trial 2 60 UMLJUR

Table 4. Relative NANA content (average of three trials) in our fusion glycoprotein for each batch in trial 2


Figure 5. Chromatograms (average) of different batches of the fusion glycoprotein for trial 2 The nmoles of NANA in the different batches for trial 2 can be determined based on the equation obtained from the standard curve: Peak Area = 6 x106 (nmoles) + 27700


Using the above equation and the peak area of each batch obtained through integration, we can determine a relative mole ratio of the NANA content in each batch. Table 4 shows the relative NANA content (average) in our fusion glycoprotein determined for each batch in trial 2:

The primary purpose of this experiment was to develop an efficient HPLC technique for the profiling of intact glycans within the fusion glycoprotein product. The sialic acid content in the fusion glycoprotein product was also analyzed. Lastly, optimization of the reproducibility for such sialic acid assay was performed. For this semester, successful development of an effective HPLC technique for the profiling of sialic acid in our protein was done. Then, analysis of the sialic acid content in six different batches was carried out. Lastly, optimization of the reproducibility of the developed technique was carried out. The glycan structure in the glycoprotein can vary based on different manufacturing processes. This varying glycan structure can affect protein structure and function, as well as pharmacokinetics. As a result, it is essential to analyze the glycan structure in order to ensure the process consistency. So, it is essential to study different glycans within this protein and determine a mole ratio of each glycan to the entire protein. The method developed to study sialic acid assay was efficient in determining the relative NANA to protein ratio in our fusion glycoprotein product. The use of sodium bisulfate served as a means for cleaving the glycosidic linkage between the sialic acid and its adjacent glycan. Moreover, it also acted in providing a mild acid hydrolysis of the sialic acid, and its subsequent labeling with ophenylene diamine. The OPD acted as a labeling UMLJUR 61

molecule as a result of which our sialic acid can show fluorescent character, and can be detected by means of a fluorescence detector. It is vital to notice that the OPD reagent prepared was close to 11.9 mg/mL because a slight increase in concentration would have severely affected the solubility of OPD in the mixture of RODI water and sodium bisulfate. Moreover, as a result of the relative hydrophobicity of the OPD labeled NANA, it was also vital to use reversed phase HPLC as compared to other kinds of HPLC techniques. The use of mobile phase A and B were determined as a result of a reference which performed a similar experiment [1]. The prominent reasons for failure were addressed to develop a more efficient technique to suit our lab. The analysis of the sialic acid content in different batches of our fusion glycoprotein product was relative. It can accurately indicate if some batches were hyper-sialated or hypo-sialated. The exact content of the sialic acid in the glycoprotein cannot be determined through the experiment. The molar mass of our fusion glycoprotein product was estimated to be about 62.5 kDa. The results obtained are intended to be verified through mass spectrometry. This would be done over the course of next semester. One critical observation made during the experiment was regarding the discrepancy of the NANA to protein ratio for the 10008 batch. It was observed that the mole ratio went from 2.13 to 4.10 for the batch. The principle error can be attributed to lack of precision over pipetting during sample preparation. The error would be addressed over the course of next semester. Since, the Graph 2 obtained for trial 2 is not clear, it becomes vital to redo the triplet injections before proceeding with future work. Analyzing Graph 2, it becomes clear that the peak area for 25 ng/mL NANA standard seems inaccurate relative to Graph 1. This might also be attributed to imprecise pipetting. These problems should get addressed when a trial 3 of triplet injections is repeated. It is also thought that there might be a problem within the HPLC which might not let exactly 13% mobile phase B to be delivered. As a result, an isocratic method would be performed for trial 3. For this trial, 87% mobile phase A and 13% B would be prepared individually, and would 62 UMLJUR

be mixed before the experiment. Then, the HPLC would be told to run 100% new solvent A prepared. This might answer a few problems as well. One other problem that has been looming over the entire course of the experiment is the detection of other peaks before the appearance of the OPD labeled NANA peak. This might be because of some other kinds of sialic acid that might be present in our standard NANA since it is not 100% pure. In fact, the presence of NAGA is highly probable. Hopefully, it will become clear after the analysis through mass spectrometry what those peaks actually indicate.


A few conclusions have been reached from the research carried out over the course of last semester. Firstly, it can be concluded that a successful experimental procedure for the detection of sialic acid was devised. Also, successful demonstration of the relative NANA content within our fusion glycoprotein product was performed. Moreover, the results from both trials show reasonable reproducibility. However, it will be critical to try to reproduce the data once again, since for the sample of 10008 Lot, there is a discrepancy.


There are many aspects of this research which must be examined in future studies. First of all, it is critical to reproduce the results as soon as possible. It is vital to establish a consistency of the glycan content within the protein due to its effects on protein structure and function. As discussed, it is also critical to analyze the chromatograms with a mass spectrometer. This can not only verify our results, but can also possibly convey the reason for the detection of other peaks in the chromatograms. Lastly, it would be interesting to cleave the intact glycans from the linkage between the protein and carbohydrate chain from the fusion glycoprotein product. The effect of this on protein structure and function can also be studied. 1.Anumula, K .R. Rapid Quantitative Detection of Sialic Acids in Glycoproteins by High Performance Liquid Chromatography with a Sensitive Fluorescence Detection. Anal. Biochem., 1995, 230, 24-30.

MEET THE EDITORS Ankit Patel, Editor (Chief 2013): Ankit is currently a sophomore in the Psychology Department. He has begun working in research this semester and he is excited to continue working throughout his career at UMass Lowell. Ankit is excited for the journal’s development and hopes to see an even more representative submission pool in 2013. Sarah Regan, Editor (Chief 2013): Sarah is currently a junior in the Exercise Physiology Department. She has been involved in research through her department and she is excited to see the journal grow next year. Nathan Manalo, Editor (Chief 2013): Nate is currently a junior in the Biology Department and will begin conducting research this summer as part of the Honor’s program. He has really enjoyed seeing all the different types of research going on around campus and he hopes that he can see even more for the next submission period. Brian Gablaski, Technical Editor: Brian will be graduating in May with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. He has enjoyed the research he has conducted in the Biology Department and he was just recently accepted into the Master’s Degree program here at UMass Lowell. Daniel Warden, Chief Editor: Dan obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Biology in December. Dan conducted research in the Biology Department and in the Clinical Laboratory and Nutritional Sciences Departments and is currently working in industry.

UMLJUR is published by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research University of Massachusetts Lowell Interested in becoming part of UMLJUR? Please Contact Us At:

Denis Jakuj, Chief Editor: Denis will be graduating in May with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. He has enjoyed many of the laboratory experiences he has had at UMass Lowell and he plans to work in research before eventually becoming a dentist. Mathew Williams, Type Editor: Matt will be graduating in May with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. Matt is planning to attend graduate school and he was very impressed with the quality of the research submitted to this journal. Raymond Lam, Design Editor: Ray will be graduating in May with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. He has enjoyed the variety of laboratory experiences offered to him while obtaining his degree, and he plans to become involved in Biotech Industry Research. Robert DeMatteo, Chief Editor: Bobby will be graduating in May with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. He has been involved with research in both the Psychology Department and the Clinical Laboratory and Nutritional Sciences Department. He plans to continue his involvement in research after graduation. UMLJUR 65



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