EPA awards $3.2 million to Indiana universities to research managing PFAS in agriculture and rural communities

August 20, 2020

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on August 20 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 its PFAS Action Plan, which outlines steps it’s 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.

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.

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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For more information about PFAS, visit the NGWA’s PFAS resource center.