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EPA Awards Nearly $2.5M For Research

DALLAS, TEXAS (May 22, 2023) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $2,499,579 in research grant funding to Texas Tech University for research on the behavior of perchlorate after fireworks events near water sources.

“Communities rely on states and local utilities to keep their water clean and to understand what contaminants could be present,” said Regional Administrator Dr. Earthea Nance. “As one of the nation’s premier research universities, Texas Tech is well-placed to steward this grant and help us learn how perchlorate from fireworks could affect water resources.”

“Protecting our water resources and ensuring clean drinking water is one of EPA’s top priorities,” said Chris Frey, Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “With this research grant, Texas Tech University will be able to provide states and utilities with further knowledge on how to protect drinking water from perchlorate contamination.”

Perchlorate is a chemical used in rocket propellants, explosives, flares, and fireworks. Recent increases in the use of fireworks have caused concern over potential increases of perchlorate in ambient waters that serve as drinking water sources. Perchlorate in drinking water sources can be a health concern because, above certain exposure levels, perchlorate can interfere with the normal functioning of the thyroid gland.

Prior research has investigated water contamination from fireworks; however, there needs to be more understanding of the magnitude and extent of perchlorate contamination before, during, and after they discharge fireworks around drinking water sources.

The awarded researchers at Texas Tech University will evaluate the relative impacts of perchlorate from fireworks on six drinking water sources across the U.S., including a groundwater source. Observations from the sites will be integrated into the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), a public domain model, to expand its ability to assess the impact of firework-driven perchlorate emissions. In addition, project results will provide states and utilities with data on the behavior of perchlorate after fireworks events which they could use to determine whether any actions are needed to reduce exposure via drinking water.