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PRESS RELEASE | ADEQ Partners with Arizona’s Public Universities to Find Innovative Solutions to Complex Problems Directly Impacting Arizonans’ Lives

PHOENIX (April 8, 2022) — The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) announced today a new partnership with Arizona’s public universities to drive innovative solutions to complex problems that directly impact Arizonans’ lives. With funding from the newly created Regents’ Grants announced today by the Arizona Board of Regents, researchers from Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona will partner with ADEQ to accelerate and develop solutions to persistent air and water quality challenges facing Arizonans.

“The Regents’ Grants are an outstanding example of the power of working together and leveraging different skill sets to solve problems,” Governor Doug Ducey said. “Arizona depends on a strong economy. Healthy citizens and clean, safe communities are essential to a bright future for all. I applaud the vision of the Arizona Board of Regents in establishing the Regents’ Grants and commend the partnership of  state agencies to create a healthier future for all of us.”

From reducing ozone in our air so Arizonans can breathe easier, to figuring out how to keep the dust from blowing, to keeping our water clean from Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and abandoned mine materials, and helping our communities recycle, ADEQ looks forward to collaborating with ASU, NAU, and UArizona to uncover new solutions in this first round of partnership and funding for the new Regents’ Grants through the Technology and Research Initiative Fund.

“Governor Ducey's Office and the Board of Regents have developed a brilliant approach to finding solutions to pressing problems in our state — an approach that combines practical problem solving with applied and robust research through Regents’ Grants,” said ADEQ Director Misael Cabrera, P.E. “From improving the air we breathe, to addressing pollutants in groundwater, to studying how recycling can be economically viable for small communities, the Regents’ Grants will help us move the needle for Arizonans.”

The Arizona Board of Regents approved five proposals for Regents’ Grant funding over the next three years. In partnership with ADEQ, researchers from Arizona’s public universities will collaborate with state experts to address:

  • Improving the air we breathe — High ground-level ozone levels affect residents in Maricopa and Yuma counties and studies show ozone exposure leads to higher levels of asthma, hospitalizations and mortality. Experts from the UArizona, ASU and ADEQ will conduct field studies to verify emissions, work to model and predict Arizona ozone concentrations and identify opportunities to mitigate high ozone levels, including development of potential incentives addressing ozone reduction strategies.
  • Controlling Valley Fever and dust — Valley Fever and dust are major and growing health and air quality issues in Arizona. Experts from NAU, UArizona, the Arizona Department of Health Services and ADEQ will work to develop a better understanding of how Valley Fever is transmitted via wind-blown dust. Technologies created at ASU will be tested to suppress dust and Valley Fever in fallow fields.
  • Removing "forever chemicals" from water supplies — Frequently referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are a group of chemicals used to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. Found in a variety of products, from clothing to furniture and food packaging, these chemicals do not break down in the environment and can move through soil and contaminate drinking water sources. One drop of “forever chemicals” can contaminate 18 million gallons of drinking water. In Arizona, unhealthy levels of PFAS compounds are found in valuable water sources. UArizona and NAU in partnership with ADEQ are working to create cost-effective technologies to measure and remove PFAS compounds from our water.
  • Managing waste from abandoned Arizona mines — Abandoned mines can contaminate water supplies with heavy metals, which impacts drinking water for municipal systems, private wells, livestock and wildlife. In partnership with ADEQ, researchers from ASU, NAU and UArizona will inventory abandoned mines to identify potential risks and work to create environmental management options.
  • Making recycling economical again — After China ended global recycling imports in 2018, towns and cities in Arizona are challenged to find an economically viable recycling strategy. In partnership with ADEQ, experts at ASU and NAU will develop computer models and tools to evaluate recycling options to help different-sized municipalities explore feasible recycling strategies.

Read About the Regents’ Grants | Learn More >

Contacts

ADEQ Caroline Oppleman, 602-540-8072 | Email >

Arizona Board of Regents Sarah Harper, 602-229-2542, 602-402-1341 | Email > Julie Newberg, 602-229-2534 | Email >