Indiana University and Purdue University received $1.6 million in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency research grants.
Indiana University and Purdue University have each been awarded $1.6 million in U.S. EPA research grants.
The grants will help the teams understand the potential impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on water quality and availability in rural communities and agricultural operations in the U.S, according to the Indiana Environmental Reporter.
The EPA grants are part of the agency’s PFAS Action Plan. The IU study will test private well water in four parts of the country, including Indiana.
The teams will look at major sources of PFAS contamination, including exposure risks from private drinking water wells and improving wastewater treatment methods to remove PFAS. The areas for testing will include Monroe County, Indiana; Robeson County, North Carolina; Washington County, Minnesota; and Spokane County, Washington.
According to Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson, principal investigator for the grant and chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the IU School of Public Health, the IU research grant is the first of its kind. MacDonald Gibson’s team will collect water samples from 300 wells.
“This will be the first nationwide study seeking to predict why some wells are contaminated with PFAS and others are not,” said Gibson. “We’ll use advanced machine-learning algorithms to try to make these predictions. We are the first to try to apply these methods to predicting PFAS exposures in private wells.”
According to Purdue University Professor of Agronomy Linda Lee, the goal of the study is to address data gaps in the understanding of PFAS in rural landscapes and agricultural operations.
The Purdue study will focus on evaluating how treated effluent irrigation and land-applied biosolids contribute to PFAS in rural water supplies, reported the Indiana Environmental Reporter. This study will occur in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia.