A $12.2 million federal grant won by the University of Kentucky will support efforts by a cross-campus team of researchers to minimize the damage done to the environment and public health by hazardous waste sites.
The award from the National Institutes of Health was announced Monday on UK’s Lexington campus. The state’s flagship university said the grant will support work by more than 50 scientists and students from 15 academic departments contributing to research at the UK Superfund Research Center.
“This grant — among the largest single awards in UK’s research portfolio — will support our continuing efforts to better understand and minimize the negative effects related to toxins and compounds found in Kentucky’s and the nation’s Superfund sites,” said UK President Eli Capilouto.
Kentucky is home to more than 200 federal Superfund sites, including 14 places on a priority list of the worst U.S. sites, university officials said. Kentucky’s sites include abandoned waste dumps and large industrial facilities, they said.
The Bluegrass state also is plagued by some of the nation’s highest rates of chronic ailments, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
At UK, environmental science researchers are working to develop new methods to detect hazardous chemicals and clean up contaminated sites.
“We are optimistic that the results from our environmental science research will help accelerate the clean-up of several Superfund sites in Kentucky,” said Lindell Ormsbee, a civil engineering professor and associate director of the UK Superfund Research Center.
Other researchers are focusing on whether nutrition can help reduce the health impact from exposure to hazardous chemicals, the university said. Another research topic is the impact exposure to toxic chemicals has on prenatal development.
UK has received funding for its Superfund-related work since 1997. Research backed by the grant will pull together work by scientists from UK’s colleges of agriculture, food and environment; arts and sciences; engineering; medicine; and public health.
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