EPA Awards Virginia Tech $800,000 to develop low-cost technique to measure air pollutants
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHILADELPHIA (May 31, 2022) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded Virginia Polytech Institute and State University $800,000 to develop a low-cost technique to measure hazardous air pollutants. The Blacksburg, Virginia, based college is one of seven institutions receiving the more than $4.7 million in research grants to advance measurement and monitoring methods for air toxics and contaminants of emerging concern in the atmosphere.
“The work Virginia Tech and these other institutions are pursuing will ensure we have access to clean air now and for future generations,” said Adam Ortiz, EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator. “While the work is extensive, it will be rewarding for the underserved communities that are plagued by contaminated air.”
Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), often referred to as air toxics, are a subset of air pollutants known to cause cancer or other serious health effects. There is extensive evidence that low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionally exposed to air toxics.
Current methods used to monitor HAPs can be costly and labor-intensive. The Virginia Tech research plans to provide a low-cost measurement of the contaminates. The research project will conclude in 2025.
“Our team brings together scientists from private and public universities with researchers at a regional regulatory agency to tackle an important issue in air quality measurements and human health. The tools we are developing will make measurements of hazardous air pollutants cheaper and more widely available, which will be a big step forward for understanding air pollution and health risks at the local and neighborhood level,” said Gabriel Isaacman-VanWertz, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. “We are excited not only to develop new technologies, but also to use these tools with our regional agency partners to improve understanding of the air quality at sites that are already known to have air quality concerns.”
The research will also investigate other emerging contaminants such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The study will also look to find more cost-effective ways to measure the contaminants that hit hard in underserved communities often plagued by poor air quality. The more cost-effective techniques support this administration’s priority to address environmental justice concerns.
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