EPA to Award $9M from their STAR Program to 7 Universities

The EPA will award $1.26 million in funding to Natalia Soares Quinete – an assistant professor in chemistry at FIU – from their $9 million STAR Program. This program aims to support innovation and scientific research focused on advancing the EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. $9 million will be awarded across seven universities to research exposure to toxic chemicals via soil and dust ingestion. 

Six universities will collaborate with FIU to work on this project, including Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., New York University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, University of California Davis, and University of Nevada-Reno.

This collaboration will use this grant to identify specific tracers of dust and soil exposure combined with the relevant environmental information in an effort to estimate soil and dust ingestion rates in children. It may be surprising to learn how toxic these ingestion rates may really be. Young children are especially vulnerable to this exposure method as they often play on the ground and put their hands in their mouths after touching random objects or dirt.

Toxic chemicals are deposited in soil and dust as they are carried through by water and left behind. At present, there is no way to accurately estimate chemical exposure by soil and dust ingestion. Identifying chemical tracers through analytical methodologies will help develop this method. This can then help understand the impacts on underrepresented groups of children.

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