EPA Awards Nearly $1.5 Million to Johns Hopkins University on Potential Risks from Pollutants Found in Biosolids from Wastewater Treatment

September 30, 2021

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PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 30, 2021) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the awarding of $1,498,000 today to Johns Hopkins University for research to determine the potential risks to human health and the environment from pollutants found in biosolids, also known as sewage sludge. John Hopkins is one of four institutions from across the nation to receive the support.

“It is important that municipalities and utilities have the information they need to treat and manage biosolids,” said Wayne Cascio, acting assistant administrator for science in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “These grants will help us leverage resources and knowledge to ensure the latest science is being used to protect public health and the environment.”

Researchers from Johns Hopkins plan to use analytical, toxicological, and risk sciences tools to identify previously unknown biosolids-associated organic contaminants (BOCs), trace their fate through multiple environmental media, and prioritize them for future decision-making. Recognizing their essential role in reducing the emissions of contaminants originating from households and industrial uses into the environment, the findings will increase the ability of water resource recovery facilities to identify and manage BOCs and help to better plan potential strategies to mitigate their sources. 

Biosolids are created during the wastewater treatment process. They do have benefits when applied to land – they add nutrients, improve soil structure, and enhance moisture retention. However, 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.

In addition to Johns Hopkins, the following institutions are receiving research grants:

  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.
  • Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, Va.
  • The Water Research Foundation, Denver, Colo.

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

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