EPA Awards $6.5 Million to Monitor Great Lakes Contaminants

POTSDAM, NY — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Clarkson University a $6.5 million five-year Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant to continue its partnership with SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Oswego to conduct the Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program.

This EPA grant continues funding for the surveillance program to monitor Great Lakes fish for contamination from legacy pollutants such as PCBs, banned pesticides, mercury and from emerging chemicals of concern like flame retardants and personal care products.

Principal investigators Thomas M. Holsen, Jean S. Newell Distinguished Professor in Engineering of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Clarkson; Philip K. Hopke, director of the Center for Air Resources Engineering at Clarkson; and Bernard S. Crimmins, research associate professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Clarkson, are responsible for the overall management of the program.

James Pagano, director of the Environmental Research Center in the Department of Chemistry at SUNY Oswego, and Professor Michael Milligan in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at SUNY Fredonia, are also principal investigators in this study.

“Protecting our Great Lakes water resources for both recreation and commerce is of vital importance to both our nation and state,” said Clarkson President Tony Collins, co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. “This EPA funding will enable our university researchers from New York State laboratories at Clarkson, SUNY Oswego and SUNY Fredonia to apply their scholarly expertise to issues that directly affect our environment and economy.”

“This new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding will be used to expand efforts to track the levels of pollutants in fish at 10 sites throughout the Great Lakes basin,” said Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman. “The data gathered through this study will help to identify contaminants that pose risks to wildlife and human health.”

The new funding will continue analysis for contaminants to assess temporal trends in bioaccumulative organic compounds and mercury in open waters of the Great Lakes, using fish as biomonitors. In addition, the project will screen for new compounds of concern entering the lake ecosystems and assess the ecological health of the Great Lakes through interpretation of chemical analyses and other food web studies.

“We are excited about continuing our collaborative work with EPA to assess pollutant concentrations and trends in the Great Lakes,” said Holsen. “Over the next five years we’ll be adding new state-of-the art analytical instruments to help identify both current and emerging contaminants, such as flame retardants, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, present in the Great Lakes ecosystem. With these additional capabilities, the Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program will continue its status as a world leader in the science of contaminant cycling in aquatic ecosystem.”

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources are used to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem.

The EPA has awarded this same partnership team $8.25 million since 2006 to monitor for contaminants in the Great Lakes.

Information about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is available at http://www.glri.us