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P3 Project seeks to develop affordable, point-of-use drinking water filtration system

LENEXA, KAN. (JULY 19, 2022) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $25,000 to University of Missouri engineering sustainability students to design, fabricate, and test a point-of-use drinking water treatment system that targets contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Led by researchers Maria Fidalgo and Chung-Ho Lin, the project aims to develop a low-energy, stand-alone drinking water treatment system that is both easily operated and inexpensive.

“As we learn more about PFAS contamination and its negative health consequences, it is important that we are investing in grants like this that move us closer to an affordable and practical solution to reduce these emerging contaminants in drinking water,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meg McCollister. “This University of Missouri project could result in a low-cost, small-scale water treatment option, and this team is providing exactly the kind of innovative thinking needed to tackle this pressing environmental challenge.”

In total, EPA awarded nearly $400,000 in funding to 16 student teams for their research and innovative solutions to address environmental and public health challenges, as part of the Agency’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Program. This year’s awarded projects include a smartphone app to monitor household lead concentrations; a mesh material to prevent shoreline erosion; and a household heating system for tribal communities that’s cleaner and more efficient.

“The students honored today are leading the way when it comes to developing cutting-edge research to address some of our most challenging environmental concerns,” said Chris Frey, assistant administrator, EPA Office of Research and Development. “I’m excited to support the next generation of scientists and engineers though EPA’s P3 Program.”

For a list of other institutions receiving funding for the 18th annual P3 Phase I awards, visit this project list.

Background

P3 Program

EPA’s P3 Program is a two-phase, research grant program open to teams of college and university students working to design solutions for a sustainable future. The 16 Phase I recipients announced today will receive grants of up to $25,000 each, which serve as their proof of concept. They will be eligible to compete for Phase II grants of up to $100,000 to further implement their design in a real-world setting.

Learn more about the P3 Program.

PFAS

In June 2022, EPA released four new drinking water health advisories for PFAS compounds in the latest action under President Biden’s action plan to deliver clean water and EPA Administrator Regan’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap. EPA also announced that it is inviting states and territories to apply for $1 billion – the first of $5 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grant funding – to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water, specifically in small or disadvantaged communities.

These actions build on EPA’s progress to safeguard communities from PFAS pollution and scientifically inform upcoming efforts, including EPA’s forthcoming proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for PFOA and PFOS, which EPA expects to finalize by the end of 2023. PFOA and PFOS are two of the most widely used and studied chemicals in the PFAS group.

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