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EPA Awards University of Florida $898,668 in Funding to Research Potential Environmental Impacts of PFAS Substances in Waste Streams

09/19/2019
Contact Information: 
Dawn Harris-Young (region4press@epa.gov)
(404) 562-8421 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Sept. 19, 2019) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced University of Florida as one of eight organizations to receive a share of $6 million in funding to expand the understanding of the environmental risks posed by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in waste streams and identify practical approaches to manage the potential impacts as PFAS enters the environment.

“These grants will help improve EPA’s understanding of the characteristics and impacts of PFAS in waste streams and enhance our efforts to address PFAS,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Today’s announcement is just one of the many ways we are delivering on the PFAS Action Plan – the most comprehensive, multi-media research and risk communication plan ever issued by the agency to address an emerging chemical of concern.

“The research will result in much-needed information regarding the diversity and concentration range of PFAS chemicals in our municipal waste stream and the occurrence, distribution, and fate of these chemicals when disposed of in engineered landfill facilities,” said Timothy G. Townsend, Ph.D., P.E., Jones Edmunds Professor of Environmental Engineering at the UF Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment, Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. “Our results will be of critical importance to public officials, solid waste facility operators, industry, regulatory agencies, and the scientific community in their quest to develop and implement science-based strategies for addressing both legacy and future environmental concerns stemming from PFAS chemicals.”

The University of Florida will receive $898,668 in funding to conduct a system-based approach to understand the role of waste type, management strategies and treatment methods on the occurrence, source, and fate of PFAS in landfills.

Taking concrete actions to address PFAS is one of EPA’s highest priorities. EPA’s recently released PFAS Action Plan identifies both short-term solutions for addressing PFAS chemicals and long-term strategies that will help provide the tools and technologies states, tribes and local communities need to clean up sites and provide clean, safe drinking water to their residents.

PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. PFAS are found in a wide array of consumer and industrial products. Due to widespread use and persistence in the environment, most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS. EPA continues to evaluate the potential risk of these compounds to human health and the environment, but there is evidence that chronic exposure above specific levels to certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects.

PFAS have been found in solid waste, landfills and surrounding environmental media (soil, groundwater), leachates, landfill gas, wastewater effluents, and biosolids. However, current treatment options are limited, as many conventional treatment methods are ineffective. In funding these projects, EPA is specifically supporting research to identify or develop innovative methods to treat or manage PFAS before it enters the environment to minimize its risks to humans and ecosystems. The resulting data will help researchers understand the occurrence, fate and transport of PFAS and identify methods or technologies to better manage PFAS-containing waste.

For more information on EPA’s PFAS Action Plan: https://www.epa.gov/pfas

For more information on EPA’s STAR recipients:

https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipients.display/rfa_id/643/records_per_page/ALL