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EPA Science Matters: May 8, 2018

Unlike most drinking water contaminants, lead is rarely found in the source water used for public water supplies. Instead, lead can enter tap water when plumbing materials containing lead corrode. Lead causes health problems, especially for children, including reduced cognitive function and decreased academic performance. EPA recently awarded nearly $4 million in funding to Virginia Tech and the Water Research Foundation to research strategies to detect and eliminate lead exposure in drinking water.

City water systems are necessarily complex. Delivering drinking water and treating sewage for millions of people, in addition to managing stormwater across hundreds of square miles, requires an extensive network of pipes, pumps, and treatment facilities. New EPA software can help planning agencies and water utilities better understand the flows of water into, within, and out of their cities.

The 2018 wildfire season has begun, with fires currently burning in Texas and Arizona. Wildfire smoke has significant health implications for those near the fire, as well as for those living farther downwind. EPA offers a suite of wildland fire resources that can help officials develop health risk communications strategies to protect public health from smoke exposure.

Mushrooms may be the next big thing in sustainable fashion. Several years ago, the company Ecovative received funding from the EPA Small Business Innovative Research program to develop MycoFlex™, a biotextile grown from mushroom myceliuma. Ecovative recently licensed their technology to the company Bolt Threads to create a more sustainable version of “leather.”