UND has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to research potential environmental impacts of persistent chemical compounds in waste streams.

The grant will allow UND to develop practical strategies for removing certain legacy and emerging chemical compounds from groundwater by studying the adsorption, desorption and biodegradation of the compound in landfills, the EPA said in a press release.

The compound, known as 9er- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, is a group of synthetic chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s and can be found in a wide array of consumer and industrial products, including some food packaging, chemical household products and in some production facilities, according to the EPA. Most people have been exposed to PFAS, but certain forms can accumulate and stay in the human body for long periods of time, the EPA says. The chemical compounds can potentially cause effects to the immune system and some cancers.

The $500,000 grant is among about $6 million EPA is awarding nationally to fund research by eight organizations to expand the understanding of the environmental risks posed by PFAS in waste streams. The research also seeks to identify practical approaches to manage the potential impacts as the chemical compounds enter the environment.

“These grants will help improve EPA’s understanding of the characteristics and impacts of PFAS in waste streams and enhance our efforts to address PFAS,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

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In addition to UND, seven other organizations also received funding on the topic:

  • New York State Department of Health

  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.

  • University of Florida, Gainsville, Fla.

  • Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.

  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

  • Texas A&M AgriLife Research, College Station, Texas.

  • Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas

For more information on EPA’s PFAS Action Plan, visit www.epa.gov/pfas.