Gadgil Lab Wins EPA Funding to Solve Arsenic Problem in Rural California


Professor Ashok Gadgil's research group has been awarded $100,000 in funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for a novel technology to remove high levels of arsenic from contaminated groundwater. The lab is partnering with a community in the Central Valley to field test the technology, which can reduce the number of arsenic-related diseases and increase economic prosperity in communities that rely on arsenic-contaminated groundwater. Arsenic is a known carcinogen and drinking high levels over many years can increase the chance of lung, bladder, and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and neurological damage.

PhD candidate Dana Hernandez led the group in securing funding from EPA's P3 program, a two-phase research grant competition for college students that offers hands-on experience that brings their classroom learning to life, while also allowing them to create tangible changes in their communities. Gadgil's lab has completed Phase I, which served as a “proof of concept” and allowed the group to develop its idea. The lab was then eligible to complete for the Phase II grant of up to $100,000, to implement its design in a real-world setting. Of 18 Phase I applicants, Gadgil's lab was one of only three groups chosen for the Phase II grant.

With Phase II funding, Gadgil's lab will implement its arsenic-removing technology for two months in Allensworth, California. It will install sensors enabled for data collection and remote monitoring, and produce an improved estimate of future cost to scale the technology to the entire community. Lastly, it will evaluate the community’s receptivity to the technology and engage it through a STEM education program.