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Your Environment. Your Health.

SRP Water Innovation - An Integrated Approach to Sustainable Solutions

Superfund Research Program

SRP Water Innovation: An Integrated Approach to Sustainable Solutions

The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) is hosting a seminar series to highlight SRP-funded projects around the country that support innovation in water technologies and research. This webinar series complements recent federal government environmental initiatives, including the December 14, 2015 White House Roundtable on Water Innovation. This meeting brought together leaders from industry, government, and academia to discuss approaches for fostering innovation in the water sector and boosting water sustainability by increasing use of water-efficient and reuse technologies.

In the webinar series, SRP grantees discuss their projects related to water remediation, detection of contaminants in water, toxicology, epidemiology, and community engagement of high relevance to drinking water. The series also features research and technologies related to sustainability and management of water resources. These advances highlight the implications of exposures to hazardous substances but also provide an opportunity to develop targeted intervention strategies.

In addition to the Risk e-Learning series, the SRP also broadcast a Progress in Research webinar series featuring SRP small business grantees working on detection and remediation of hazardous substances in water.

We would like to thank the following members of the Risk e-Learning committee, along with SRP staff, for their help in developing the Risk e-Learning sessions: Michael Adam, Jean Balent, Kathleen Gray, Sally Gutierrez, Jeff Heimerman, Maggie Theroux, Kimberly Thigpen Tart, and David Sedlak.

Session I - Introducing the Big Picture
April 25, 2016 • 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. EDT
An archive of this webinar is available on EPA's CLU-IN Training & Events Webpage.

In Session I of this series, SRP staff and grantees introduced challenges and opportunities related to protecting water quality and promoting access to safe, drinkable water.


  • Water Research Innovation from the NIEHS Superfund Research Program - An Integrated Approach for Sustainable Solutions
    Bill Suk, Ph.D., Director, NIEHS Superfund Research Program
  • The Water Supply - Superfund Connection
    David Sedlak, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
  • 1,4 Dioxane in Massachusetts: A Case Study
    Wendy Heiger-Bernays, Ph.D., and Madeleine Scammell, D.Sc., Boston University


  • Heather Henry, Ph.D., Health Scientist Administrator, NIEHS Superfund Research Program

SRP Director Bill Suk, Ph.D., began the session by making the connection between SRP research and water innovation. The SRP funds multidisciplinary research addressing the complex and evolving challenges associated with Superfund and related hazardous waste sites. Some of this funded research, however, can be directly applicable to addressing challenges in water quality and the development of the next generation of water technologies.

David Sedlak, Ph.D., from the University of California, Berkeley SRP Center introduced the challenges in the water sector and discussed opportunities for boosting water sustainability. He also discussed water reuse — the practice of using municipal wastewater effluent to sustain aquatic ecosystems and augment drinking water supplies — as well as the treatment and use of contaminated groundwater as water supplies.

Wendy Heiger-Bernays, Ph.D., and Madeleine Scammell, D.Sc., from the Boston University SRP Center discussed their work with a Massachusetts town after the discovery of 1,4-dioxane in private drinking water wells and concerns regarding a capped landfill as the source. They provided an overview of relevant aspects of the Safe Drinking Water Act in relation to this particular unregulated drinking water contaminant and potential health risks.

Session II - Technologies for Water Remediation
June 20, 2016 • 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. EDT
An archive of this webinar is available on EPA's CLU-IN Training & Events Webpage.

Session II featured SRP-funded projects related to remediation of hazardous substances in water. The presentations highlighted potential tools for reducing water contaminants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls, trichloroethylene, and other difficult-to-treat contaminants. Tools included enhanced membranes and in situ chemical treatment systems. Presenters also discussed technology transfer opportunities and challenges.


  • Nanostructured Membranes for Water Remediation
    Dibakar Bhattacharyya, Ph.D., and Lindell Ormsbee, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
  • Advanced Composites for In Situ Remediation of Groundwater and Surface Water
    Alexis Carpenter, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Triad Growth Partners
  • Chemical Oxidation of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances in Groundwater
    Thomas Bruton, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley


  • Kira Lynch, Superfund and Technology Liaison, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10

Dibakar Bhattacharyya, Ph.D., and Lindell Ormsbee, Ph.D., from the University of Kentucky SRP Center discussed their work on nanostructured membranes for water remediation. Membranes provide flexible technologies and are extensively used for applications ranging from organics and virus removal to desalination. The integration of metal/metal oxide particles in membrane pore domain allows catalytic detoxification (e.g., PCBs, TCE) of water through both reductive and oxidative pathways. The presentation included both lab-scale results and membrane scale-up and other translational activities needed for water remediation.

Alexis Carpenter, Ph.D., Chief Scientist at Triad Growth Partners and former Duke University SRP Center trainee, discussed her work on advanced composites for in situ remediation of groundwater and surface water. She is developing a range of composite materials for remediation of contaminated water with a focus on tunability, low cost, ease of use, and environmentally friendly materials. Discussion focused on controlled release polymer structures (CRPS) for in situ chemical oxidation of chlorinated compounds in groundwater. She also discussed recent work on novel composites for chemical reduction, sorption of heavy metals, and the opportunities for using cellulose nanomaterials in water treatment technologies.

Thomas Bruton, a trainee at the University of California, Berkeley SRP Center, discussed chemical oxidation of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in groundwater. PFAS have received increasing attention due to the ongoing discovery of groundwater contamination stemming from industrial facilities and sites where aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) was used for firefighting. This presentation provided an overview of research performed at UC Berkeley to develop chemical oxidation treatments for in situ remediation of PFAS. In situ chemical oxidation may prove to be a useful technique to manage PFAS plumes and protect municipal drinking water supply wells.

Session III - Water Detection Technologies
June 27, 2016 • 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. EDT
An archive of this webinar is available on EPA's CLU-IN Training & Events Webpage.

Session III featured SRP-funded projects that are developing innovative technologies for monitoring hazardous substances in water. The presentations highlighted potential non-targeted testing, passive sampling, and bioanalytical approaches to detect a wide variety of contaminants in water, with applicability to drinking water. Presenters also discussed results from certain targeted contaminants, such as phthalates, trichloroethylene, and dioxins.


  • Nontargeted Analysis of Urine and Water by Tea Bag Extraction / Mass Spectrometry
    Roger Giese, Ph.D., Northeastern University
  • Combining Target and Non-target Analysis with Passive Sampling Devices to Measure the External Organic Chemical Exposome in Water
    Damian Shea, Ph.D., North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill SRP Center
  • Bioassay and Bioanalytical Approaches to Chemical Detection in Water Samples
    Michael Denison, Ph.D., Candace Spier Bever, Ph.D., and Thomas Young, Ph.D., University of California, Davis


  • Diana Cutt, Superfund and Technology Liaison, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2

Roger Giese, Ph.D., from the Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Environmental Contaminants (PROTECT) SRP Center at Northeastern University presented nontargeted tea bag extraction / mass spectrometry methodology for large urine and water samples in regard to the problem of preterm birth. This included analysis of sulfated exposome metabolites in urine and of pollutants in groundwater samples from Puerto Rico. The tea bag technique also may be of interest for purification of drinking water by the consumer.

Damian Shea, Ph.D., a professor at North Carolina State University and investigator with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill SRP Center, discussed combining target and non-target analysis with passive sampling devices to measure the external organic chemical exposome in water. His research team has developed a non-selective passive sampling device (nsPSD) that accumulates both polar and non-polar organic chemicals (log Kow range 0.2-8.0) from water and combined this with analysis using both target chemical and non-target chemical methods using LCMS and GCMS. Results from surface waters at Superfund sites and elsewhere were presented and used to illustrate some advantages and limitations of these new methodologies for assessing risk associated with chemicals in drinking water and fish and shellfish.

Michael Denison, Ph.D., Thomas Young, Ph.D., and Candace Bever, Ph.D., from the University of California, Davis SRP Center discussed their work on developing bioanalytical tools for the detection of hazardous chemicals. They introduced how cell-based assays provide an understanding of how hazardous chemicals interact with human receptors, while antibody-based assays are quantitative analytical tools. Examples from water sources in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and from the LA Basin in Southern California were presented. They further discussed how cell-based bioassays can be useful in screening large numbers of samples and then directly informing the use of high-resolution mass spectrometry to identify known and unknown hazardous chemicals.

Session IV - Communicating Risk and Engaging Communities: Arsenic and Well Testing
July 21, 2016 • 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. EDT
An archive of this webinar is available on EPA's CLU-IN Training & Events Webpage.

Session IV featured efforts by several SRP Centers to engage communities on private water regarding well testing and treatment alternatives. The session included an introduction describing the health effects associated with exposure to inorganic arsenic that include both cancer and non-cancer endpoints. Following the introduction, presenters discussed their research and engagement efforts in different U.S. communities to identify barriers to well testing, to encourage testing of arsenic in private wells, and to empower well water users with the tools they need to keep their drinking water safe.


  • Introduction: The Health Effects of Arsenic
    Rebecca Fry, Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • The Case for Universal Screening of Private Well Water Quality in the U.S.: Evidence from Arsenic
    Yan Zheng, Ph.D., Columbia University
  • Measuring and Improving Rates of Arsenic Well Water Testing in New Hampshire
    Mark Borsuk, Ph.D., Dartmouth College
  • Well Empowered: Investigating Potential Exposure to Toxic Metals in North Carolina Communities
    Neasha Graves, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Caroline Armijo, Residents for Coal Ash Cleanup
  • Working Alongside Communities and Government Agencies to Address Arsenic in Drinking Water and Private Well Testing in Arizona
    Janick Artiola, Ph.D., University of Arizona


  • Felicia Barnett, Superfund and Technology Liaison, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4, Director of the EPA Site Characterization and Monitoring Technical Support Center

Rebecca Fry, Ph.D., Director of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill SRP Center, introduced the session by describing the health effects associated with exposure to inorganic arsenic that include both cancer and non-cancer endpoints. Inorganic arsenic continues to poison the water of millions around the globe, including populations in the United States. She detailed research highlighting that exposures occurring during critical times of development, such as the in utero period, are associated with detrimental health outcomes in children. She also highlighted innovative public health strategies that are needed to improve this global health issue, such as increasing awareness and providing cost-effective methods for remediation.

Yan Zheng, Ph.D., from the Columbia University SRP Center, introduced research in communities in Maine and New Jersey that has identified behavioral, situational, and financial barriers to households managing their own well water safety, resulting in far from universal screening despite traditional public health outreach efforts. The researchers also have observed significant socioeconomic disparities in arsenic testing and treatment when private water is unregulated. They conclude that achieving universal screening will require policy interventions and that universal screening would reduce population arsenic exposure greater than any promotional efforts to date.

Mark Borsuk, Ph.D., from the Dartmouth College SRP Center discussed his work to measure and improve rates of arsenic well water testing in New Hampshire. He and his colleagues designed and implemented a statewide survey to estimate rates of well water testing and treatment for arsenic. The survey helped them to identify barriers to testing and treatment and to identify target populations who test and treat at particularly low rates. They then used this information to design, implement, and evaluate interventions to overcome the identified barriers and to develop a toolkit to assist communities with planning interventions of their own.

Neasha Graves from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill SRP Center, along with Caroline Armijo from Residents for Coal Ash Cleanup, introduced a new initiative at UNC, implemented jointly with Ms. Armijo's group in Stokes County, North Carolina. Their shared purpose is to develop a better understanding of residents' exposure to toxic metals in well water and to empower them to reduce or eliminate harmful exposures. This initiative includes (1) a survey of residents who get drinking water from private wells and (2) water, soil, and urine samples from a subset of those residents.

Janick Artiola, Ph.D., from the University of Arizona SRP Center, highlighted activities working alongside communities and government agencies to address arsenic in drinking water and private well testing in Arizona. These activities involve close partnerships with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the Arizona Department of Health Services. Examples include their work in Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona, a town neighboring a Superfund site, that helped highlight the risk of arsenic exposure from both private and public water sources unrelated to issues arising from the site. They also have a long tradition of reaching out to rural private well owners through workshops and informational materials that highlight Arizona's unique mineral-rich geology in relation to arsenic in drinking water, as well as water treatment options.

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