The EPA has announced that two Indiana universities will receive research grants to better understand the potential impacts of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on water quality and availability in rural communities and agricultural operations across the United States. Purdue University and Indiana University are two of three institutions nationwide to be awarded grants that build on the Agency’s efforts to implement the PFAS Action Plan, which outlines concrete steps EPA is taking to address PFAS and protect public health. These research teams will look at major sources of PFAS contamination, fate, and transport in rural areas including exposure risks from private drinking water wells and improved wastewater treatment methods to remove PFAS from water and biosolids that may be used for agricultural purposes.

“EPA is proud to support the efforts of Purdue and Indiana Universities to better understand how PFAS contamination affects rural communities,” said EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Cheryl Newton. “Addressing PFAS is one of EPA’s highest priorities and we will continue to work with our partners to protect the health of our communities.”

Purdue University will receive $1,609,344 to investigate the occurrence of PFAS and their concentrations in private drinking wells and water resource recovery facilities in rural communities in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The university will also research the relative contribution of PFAS from land-application wastewater and biosolids to rural water supplies. This work will identify landscape, hydrologic, and soil characteristics that are most appropriate for receiving biosolids or treated wastewater with minimal impact to water and crop resources.

“EPA’s funding of this research, led by Purdue’s Dr. Linda Lee, will not only benefit our rural communities but will also provide valuable insight to our agricultural producers,” said Karen Plaut, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture at Purdue University. “This grant allows us to collaborate with research partners across multiple states to increase the potential impact.”

Indiana University will receive $1,584,420 to develop a scalable platform for predicting PFAS occurrence in private wells to improve understanding of exposure risks to rural communities relying on private wells for their drinking water. The university will use an integrated modeling approach by comparing modeling predictions to private well samples collected nationwide via a citizen science campaign utilizing mail-out test kits. The research is expected to substantially improve the accuracy of risk predictions and to facilitate informed risk management decisions.

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