Microbial Characterization of Metal Removal Fluids and Associated Biofilms Using Molecular Approaches

Faculty Researcher: Chuanwu Xi, PhD, Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan

Each year, billions of gallons of metal removal fluids (MRFs) are consumed in manufacturing for purposes such as metalworking (e.g., cooling and lubrication), surface preparation (e.g., cleaning and pickling), and finishing (e.g., coating and plating). A number of human health effects have been associated with exposure to MRFs, including various respiratory diseases, skin conditions, and cancers. It has become clear that the growth of microorganisms in MRFs may cause health hazards to workers. Several molecular techniques have been developed for the purpose of characterizing microorganisms in MRFs; however, no comprehensive study of microbial communities in MRFs has been reported yet. In this pilot project, we will develop and validate different molecular techniques for microbial characterization of MRFs samples. We will use the validated molecular methods to characterize microbial composition in detail in MRFs and to quantify the abundance of Mycobacteria, specifically M. immunogenum and Pseudomonades in MRFs environments including bulk fluids, biofilms and possibly bioaerosols to elucidate a possible critical role of biofilms in the microbial ecology in MRFs.


Research trainee’s current position:
Chaunwu Xi is currently a Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Global Public Health at the University of Michigan.