U.S. Water News Online
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn University researchers hope to
develop a process for removing a noxious chemical from drinking water
The chemical is percholorate, an ingredient in solid-rocket and
missile fuel. It has been found at dangerously high levels in
drinking water in Alabama and 21 other states, according to
Three Auburn engineering faculty members, Don Zhao, Willie Harper
and Aliecia McClain, will work on the project with $25,000 in grants
from the Alabama Water Resources Research Institute.
Percholorate poses serious thyroid-related health risks,
especially in newborns, children and pregnant women, and can cause
physical and mental retardation, researchers said.
The Auburn engineers hope to come up with a new class of absorbent
that will remove percholorate from the water supply and safely
destroy it. If successful, the project could attract additional
funding from agencies, such as NASA.
Redstone Arsenal and Marshal Space Flight Center in Huntsville are
among several sites in Alabama that have manufactured, stored and/or
used percholorate for many years, the researchers said.
Other AWRRI grants were awarded to University of Alabama
biologists Julie Olson, Perry Churchill and Amelia Ward for Cahaba
River projects. Their work could be used to set standards for
currently unregulated pollutants discharged into Alabama rivers and
Auburn University geologist Luke Marzen and physics professor J.M.
Wersinger also received a grant for drought research.
These projects were selected from among 19 proposals that
researchers at universities statewide submitted. An AWRRI review
panel evaluated all proposals for their potential for water resource
The grants program is funded through the U.S. Geological Survey.
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