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EPA Backs Texas Tech Chemical Contaminant Research

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding $374,510 to Texas Tech University through EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program.

Texas Tech is developing a bioenergetics AOP framework that can translate the effects of manufactured chemicals from the individual, population and community-level.

A majority of ecotoxicology studies are focused at levels of biological organization that are most conducive to empirical approaches -the individual and lower. However, the levels of biological organization that are most relevant to environmental health and societal value are at the population level and higher (communities and ecosystems).

Because energy is a universal ecological currency that reaches across levels of organization, a bioenergetics approach to understanding and predicting ecological effects of chemical stressors is a promising path forward.

Researchers are using a freshwater flea and snail species model along with two emerging contaminants, pyraclostrobin fungicide and perfluorooctane sulfonate, to develop and parameterize bioenergetics and population models to predict adverse ecological effects.

“This research will help develop innovative methods to reduce chemical impacts on the environment and people’s health,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “EPA’s STAR program is making these scientific advances possible.”

The study is part of a $4 million grant to six universities to study the ecological impacts of manufactured chemicals, leading to better chemical risk assessments and decisions for protecting the environment.

EPA’s STAR program grants are part of EPA’s Chemical Safety for Sustainability (CSS) research program’s efforts to develop new methods to improve chemical evaluation and support environmental sustainability. This research will use innovative methods to understand negative impacts of chemicals in ecological and human populations.

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