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The North Carolina Policy Collaboratory has awarded $430,000 in grants for three research projects to address emerging contaminants in North Carolina, including GenX, a potentially toxic industrial compound that has been detected in the Cape Fear River.

“GenX was identified last summer as a potential dangerous contaminant in our state’s drinking water, and these funds will help to better understand the scope of this issue and how it might be addressed,” said Al Segars, chair of the Collaboratory’s advisory board and PNC Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and faculty director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. “By funding research that addresses these kinds of timely environmental quality concerns, the Collaboratory is fulfilling its mission of connecting university research to policy in service to North Carolina citizens.”

The grants will support the following projects:

  • $300,000 to evaluate emerging contaminants in private wells in North Carolina. The grant will build on an existing study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and led by Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson, associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering at UNC Gillings School of Public Health. Researchers will test the performance of household water filters in removing lead, microbial contaminants, GenX and other perfluoroalkyl compounds. Gibson’s team will also conduct a cost-benefit analysis of interventions for private wells contaminated with lead, GenX and other contaminants.
  • $50,000 for a project led by Matthew Lockett, assistant professor, and Marcey Waters, Glen H. Elder Jr. Distinguished Professor, in the chemistry department in UNC-Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences, to develop an easy-to-read, qualitative paper test that would indicate if GenX might be present in the water and if additional analysis is necessary. This project is a partnership between the Collaboratory and the UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility.
  • $80,000 to prioritize research and identify ways to address data and monitoring needs for detection of contaminants across the state. The work will be carried out by a state-wide consortium of university researchers organized by the Collaboratory who are working to identify completed, ongoing and planned research projects on emerging contaminants, including GenX, in North Carolina. The Collaboratory research team will be co-led by Gibson and Detlef Knappe, professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at North Carolina State University, and is comprised of faculty members from East Carolina University, North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington and Duke University.
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