EPA Gives Researcher $1.9 Million to Identify Lead In Water Throughout Country

April 26, 2018

The Virginia Tech researcher first identified lead in Flint, Mich., water systems

The U.S. EPA has awarded Virginia Tech University researcher Marc Edwards with $1.9 million to study other American cities where there is a likelihood for lead contamination in the water supply. Research areas will also focus on locations where citizens are struggling to obtain necessary help from local governments.

“I think it’s cool that the EPA is finally funding this work after 14 years of confrontations,” Edwards said. “We’re going to work from the bottom up, working with people in communities.”

Edwards is the individual that first identified lead in water systems in Flint, Mich., and has spent several years battling federal, state and local governments on water quality concerns. This decision for federal funding of Edwards work marks a positive step towards a cooling of the relationship between the two parties.

“The whole idea is, at the end of this, to come up with a model to predict which cities are likely to have problems,” Edwards said. “Which cities are most likely to have lead pipes, and not be following the rules, and then work with communities there to figure out if they do have a problem, then build algorithms for individual homeowners to protect themselves, from sampling to filters.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who is currently facing a bevy of investigations, echoed Edwards sentiment.

“This research will move us one step closer to advancing our work to eradicate lead in drinking water,” Pruitt said.

Beyond the grant given to Edwards, EPA also awarded an additional $1.9 million to the Denver-based Water Research Foundation, which will also focus on strategies to mitigate lead exposure from drinking water.

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