Cross-agency collaboration coupled with research translation and community engagement has become a working model for the University of Arizona (UA) Superfund Research Program (SRP). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), along with several state agencies are actively engaging with UA SRP researchers on projects related to the metal exposure in homes, phytoremediation, and wind-blown dust studies, as well as community outreach related to those topics.
The Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund site, the location of UA SRP’s phytoremediation field trial, holds particular interest for the EPA and its cleanup methods at Superfund sites polluted with mine waste. As part of the field trial, UA SRP is testing ways to stabilize mine waste and keep metals from spreading to adjacent communities. It is also testing ways to make mine waste a suitable plant growth substrate so plants will extract mine waste from the soil.
Additionally, the UA SRP project to determine arsenic uptake in homegrown vegetables, Gardenroots, recently wrapped up, spurring local citizens to contact the EPA with questions related to the findings.
To ensure a coordinated response from interested parties related to findings from its projects, principal investigators at UA SRP have held conference calls with regional EPA staff to discuss all four projects. UA SRP has also held a series of conference calls to stay up-to-date on current and future local events with agencies such as ATSDR, Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).
UA SRP is working with EPA to prepare another chapter in their “Live in Region 9,” aimed at informing local EPA Region 9 staff of relevant UA SRP research. It is also preparing a joint meeting for the Dewey-Humboldt community, the community adjacent to the Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund site, which will include presentations and break-out sessions by EPA Region 9, ATSDR, ADHS, ADEQ, and the UA SRP.
Look out for future UA SRP collaborative events and read about recent news on the UA SRP website .