Michigan State receives EPA research funding to evaluate potential risks from pollutants in sewage sludge


This photo taken Sept. 30, 2020, shows U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler during an appearance in Traverse City, Mich., where he announced an environmental justice grant for Detroit and pledged a more community-oriented focus in a second Trump administration. (AP Photo/John Flesher)

WAHINGTON (WLNS) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $5,976,976 in funding to four institutions for research to support states, municipalities, and utilities in determining the potential risks to human health and the environment from pollutants found in biosolids.

Results from this research may inform people on how to manage biosolids.

“It is important that municipalities and utilities have the information they need to treat and manage biosolids. These grants will help us leverage resources and knowledge to ensure the latest science is being used to protect public health and the environment.”

Wayne Cascio, acting assistant administrator for science in EPA’s Office of Research and Development

Biosolids are created during the wastewater treatment process. They are organic matter recycled from sewage, especially for use in agriculture. They are used to add nutrients to soil and enhance moisture retention.

Applying biosolids to land has economic and waste management benefits since it saves space in landfills, recycles a waste product, and reduces demand for synthetic fertilizers.

On the other hand though, biosolids can also contain a variety of pollutants. Utilities and states need information on these pollutants to ensure that they are processed, handled, and used in a way that minimizes potential harm.

To address these needs, the researchers receiving these grants will search for more information on the occurrence, fate, and transport of chemicals in land-applied biosolids, as well as the impact of various treatment and management processes on chemical levels in biosolids.

The institutions receiving research grants are:

-Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md

-Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich

-Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, Va.

-The Water Research Foundation, Denver, Colo.

More information on these awards: https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipients.display/rfa_id/675/records_per_page/ALL

More information on EPA research grants: https://www.epa.gov/research-grants

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