LENEXA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced research projects addressing priority environmental and human health problems in 14 states through partnerships between EPA’s research office, regional offices, and states.

“EPA encourages the use of innovative scientific approaches to help solve important environmental problems,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “By working with our state partners, we can expand and diversify EPA’s work, engage the public, and foster creative solutions to these challenges.”

The research announced today is designed to address pressing environmental issues faced by the states. EPA is uniquely equipped to provide scientific expertise to help tackle these problems. The selected projects focus on non-point source nitrogen pollution, volatile organic compound emission detection, harmful algal blooms, roadway air pollution near schools, and other environmental and human health issues across the country. The projects will employ innovative approaches including citizen science, crowdsourcing, a challenge competition, and advanced monitoring technologies.

One of these projects is “Use of Next-Generation Molecular Tools for Harmful Algal Blooms and Microbial Source Tracking to Support Watershed Restoration in Kansas and Nebraska.” EPA will assist the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and Kansas Department of Health and Environment with identifying sources of microbial water pollution and harmful algal bloom assessments using the PhyloChip, an innovative monitoring technology.

Monitoring sources of E. coli and harmful algal blooms is a challenge for environmental managers. In some areas, E. coli has been identified as one of the leading causes of water quality decline. Harmful algal blooms can lead to drinking water contamination and fish or even human poisoning. In Kansas, this project will evaluate the use of new molecular-based technology to identify the cyanobacterial species that produce toxins and factors that promote toxic blooms. In Nebraska, this technology will help identify sources of fecal contamination in rivers and lakes. Combined with ongoing monitoring efforts, the data will provide a comprehensive assessment of the development of harmful algal blooms in Kansas and sources of fecal pollution in Nebraska watersheds. These assessments will support planning, management and restoration of water resources in Kansas and Nebraska.

Learn more about this project and others at: epa.gov/innovation/2017-regionalstate-innovation-projects.