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EPA grant to UC engineering makes for a better environment
Date:1/8/2008

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has awarded nearly $700,000 to Dionysios Dionysiou and coworkers to study processes used to purify drinking water.

The USEPA awarded the grant of $698,689 to the University of Cincinnati to establish a baseline understanding of how toxins produced by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) can be changed by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, a process used to disinfect drinking water. The research will be critical to developing cost-efficient UV technologies to treat water contaminated by such toxins. Dionysiou is also investigating treatment of algae-contaminated water specifically using sunlight and an environmentally friendly catalyst.

Some of the cyanobacterial toxins are even more toxic than the venom produced by many poisonous snakes, says Dionysiou, associate professor of environmental engineering. These toxins have even been included in the list of chemical or biological warfare agents. He explains that the toxins produced by cyanobacteria include hepatotoxins, neurotoxins and dermatotoxins, which affect the liver, nervous system and skin, respectively. Among the most commonly found cyanobacterial toxins is a group called microcystins. Microcystin-LR, for example, is a potent hepatotoxin.

The problem is not confined to the United States, where it is found in the Great Lakes region and Florida, for example. Cyanotoxins are also found in Northern European countries like Scandinavia, as well as France, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Australia. Blue-green algae can grow in freshwater lakes, ponds and wetlands. They thrive in stagnant water under certain environmental conditions and eutrophication. Eutrophication refers to the enriching of a lake with nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen. This enrichment occurs frequently as a result of human activity, whether from domestic or industrial sewage, leaching of pesticides or draining of farm fertilizer runoff, as well other sources. Fo
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Contact: Wendy Hart Beckman
wendy.beckman@uc.edu
513-556-1826
University of Cincinnati
Source:Eurekalert

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