Zorimar Rivera-Nunez, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Professor Rutgers UniversityEOHSI – Environmental and Population Health Bio-Sciences
Work 170 Frelinghuysen Road Room 316 Piscataway NJ 08854 Work Phone: 848-445-3194
Photo of Zorimar Rivera-Nunez Ph.D.

Biographical Info

Dr. Rivera-Núñez holds a BS in Microbiology and a MS in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico. Her doctoral degree is from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. She completed a National Academies post-doctoral fellowships at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Cincinnati, OH. Before coming to Rutgers she was on the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, Brown School, Public Health Program.

Research Areas
Dr. Rivera-Núñez studies chemical exposures and its effects in early life and subsequent health. Most of her research focuses on: (1) effect of measurement error characterizing environmental exposure, (2) the utility of biomarkers identifying windows of exposure and susceptibility, and (3) the effect of perinatal exposures in birth outcomes and children’s development.

Dr. Rivera-Núñez is interested in exposure assessment of endocrine disruptors (EDCs) during pregnancy and early life. Pregnancy/birth studies harbors specific challenges due to the physiological and behavioral factors that may come into play during pregnancy. For example, pregnant women have a weakened immune system and higher water or food intake. Zearalenone (ZEN) and a-zearalanol (ZER) are estrogenic mycotoxins produced by Fusarium fungi. They bind to estrogen receptors alpha and beta with higher affinity than other well-studied EDCs (such as DDT and BPA), and exhibit higher estrogenic potency than genistein and other isoflavones. Although, ZEN and ZER can be detected in a wide range of food products including cereal grains, meat, milk, wine, beer, dried fruit, and spices, there is an absence of reliable human data on excretion rates, dose-response, and impact of age and gender among other important factors and modifiers. Dr. Rivera-Núñez and colleagues are characterizing ZEN and ZER exposure and identify dietary sources of ZEN and ZER during pregnancy.

Another area of research for Dr. Rivera-Núñez is exposure assessment of drinking water contaminants. Her postdoctoral work documented the change in drinking water disinfection treatment from chlorination to chloramination in the United States drinking water systems and their impact in pregnancy outcomes. They have examined this change by linking more than ten years of birth data to drinking water quality data. These publications described how to minimize exposure misclassification from environmental missing data, chemical mixtures, and short windows of exposure. This work is integral part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts rule revision. Dr. Rivera-Núñez is also interested in toxic metals and maternal health in general.

Selected Publications

  1. Szamreta EA, Qin B, Rivera-Núñez Z, Parehk N, Barrett ES, Lin Y, Ferrante J, Bandera EV [Epub ahead of print]. Greater adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet is associated with later breast development and menarche in peripubertal girls Public Health Nutr. PMID:31439055
  2. Rivera-Núñez Z, Barrett ES, Szmreta EA, Shapses SA, Qin B, Lin Y, Zarbl H, Buckley B, Bandera EV. Urinary Mycoestrogens and Age and Height at Menarche in New Jersey Girls Environ. Health 18:24 PMID: 30902092
  3. Jhawar SR, Rivera-Núñez Z, Drachtman R, Cole PD, Hoppe B, Parikh RR. (2019). Early-stage pediatric Hodgkin Lymphoma: Combined modality therapy is associated with increased overall survival relative to chemotherapy alone. JAMA 5:689-695 PMID: 30605220
  4. Rivera-Núñez Z, Pan Z, Dulience B, Becker H, Giammar D, Iannotti L. (2018) Water metal contaminant in a potentially mineral-deficient population of Haiti. J. Environ. Health Res.60:109-119 PMID: 30078339
  5. Rivera-Núñez Z and Wright JM. (2018) The effect of trihalomethane and haloacetic acid exposures on stillbirth in Massachusetts. Occup Environ Med 75: 742-751 PMID:30061312
  6. Farber NJ, Rivera-Núñez Z, Kim S, Shinder B, Radadia KD, Sterling J, Modi PK, Goyal S, Parikh R, Mayer TM, Weiss RE, Kim IY, Elsamra SE, Jang TL, Singer EA. (2019). Trends and outcomes of lymphadenectomy for nonmetastatic renal cell carcinoma: A propensity score-weighted analysis of the National Cancer Database. Oncol. 37:26-32 PMID: 30446458
  7. Evans AM, Wright JM, Meyer AN, Rivera-Núñez Z. (2013) Spatial variation of disinfection by-products concentrations: exposure assessment implications. Water Res. 16:6130-6140. PMID: 23993731
  8. Rivera-Núñez Z, Wright JM, Blount BC, Silva LK, Jones E, Chan RL, Pegram RA, Singer PC, Savitz DA. (2012) Comparison of trihalomethanes in tap water and blood: a case study in the United States. Health Perspect. 120:661-667. PMID: 22281753
  9. Rivera-Núñez Z, Meliker JR, Meeker JD, Slotnick MJ, Nriagu JO. (2012). Urinary arsenic species, toenail arsenic, and estimates of arsenic intake in a southeastern Michigan population with low-to-moderate exposure to arsenic in drinking water. Expo. Sci. Environ. Epidemiol. 22:182-190. PMID: 2187897
  10. Rivera-Núñez Z, Meliker JR, Linder A, Nriagu JO. (2010). Reliability of spot urine samples in assessing arsenic exposure. J. Hyg. Environ. Health 213:259-264. PMID: 20427236


Categories: Faculty, Environmental and Population Health Biosciences, Epi Members, Member
Updated 4 months ago.

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