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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

DRINKING WATER

Opening Date: April 17, 2000
Closing Date: July 31, 2000

Background
Research on Health Effects of Chemical Contaminants
Research on Pathogen Infectivity and Treatment
Funding
Eligibility
Instructions for Submitting an Application
Contacts

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BACKGROUND

The Safe Drinking Water Act mandates that EPA identify and regulate drinking water contaminants which may have adverse health effects and which are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems. EPA regulations addressing requirements of the Act require disinfection of surface water and certain groundwater supplies. Scientific evidence suggests that exposure to chemical byproducts formed during the disinfection process may be associated with adverse health effects. Reducing the amount of disinfectant used or altering the disinfection process may decrease byproduct formation; however, these practices may increase the potential for microbial contamination. The current challenge is to balance the health risks caused by exposure to microbial pathogens with the health risks caused by exposure to disinfection byproducts.

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) as amended in 1996 required EPA to publish a list of contaminants which, at the time of publication, are not subject to any proposed or promulgated national primary drinking water regulation, are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems, and may require regulation under the SDWA [section 1412(b)(1)]. The SDWA specifies that EPA publish the first list of contaminants ("Contaminant Candidate List," or CCL) not later than 18 months after the date of enactment, i.e., by February 1998, and every five years thereafter. The Amendments also specify that the CCL must be published after consultation with the scientific community and after notice and opportunity for public comment. The first Drinking Water CCL was published in March 1998 (Federal Register 63(40):10274-10287, March 2, 1998), and includes 50 chemical and 10 microbial contaminants/contaminant groups. The list is comprised of contaminants that are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems. CCL contaminants are grouped according to the need for research in health effects, treatment or analytical methods; occurrence monitoring; and regulatory or guidance development. Contaminants for future regulation will be identified from this list. The SDWA requires that EPA select at least five contaminants and determine whether or not they should be regulated by 2001. The Agency is required to repeat the contaminant identification and selection cycle every five years, thereby regularly revising the CCL. The Agency is also required to re-evaluate existing drinking water regulations every six years.

This RFA solicits research responsive to the research priorities list on the current CCL, research on potential future CCL contaminants, and research that will improve the ability of water system operators (for both large and small water systems) to manage water supplies to minimize, or prevent health risks posed by contaminants in drinking water.

RESEARCH ON HEALTH EFFECTS OF CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS

Methemoglobin formation. What is the susceptibility of sensitive populations to the acute effects of methemoglobin formation from contaminants in drinking water? Several of the contaminants on the contaminant candidate list (naphthalene, nitrobenzene, dinitrotoluenes) are among those chemicals known to induce methemoglobin formation. There are a number of sensitive subpopulations that are more susceptible to methemoglobin formation than the general population, including those with a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, a methemoglobin reductase deficiency, or variant hemoglobins. Infants also tend to be more susceptible than adults. This RFA solicits research on the dose-response characteristics of subpopulations susceptible to methemoglobin formation as compared to the normal population and research on whether the response to mixtures of exogenous methemoglobin inducers is additive or synergistic. Proposals might also consider species differences in metabolism of methemoglobin inducers since species differences in metabolism may contribute to sensitivity.

Neurotoxicity of Al and Mn. In order to better characterize the human health risk from aluminum and manganese, research is needed to determine factors that influence the occurrence of various aluminum or manganese complexes, the relative influence of such complexes on the distribution of aluminum or manganese in the body, and the dose-dependent contribution of such complexes to neurotoxic effects. Proposals might consider: mechanistic factors such as regulation of ion transport, the cytoskeleton, neurotransmitter levels, or enzyme activities following oral exposure; differences between the pharmacokinetics of water, food, or inhalation exposures; variations in bioavailability and metabolism; and other factors that affect human susceptibility, such as genetic factors, diet, age, sex, or predisposing health conditions.

Pharmacokinetics of CCL chemicals. The pharmacokinetics (i.e. absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) of a number of chemicals on the CCL (i.e. mono- and dimethyl tin; mono- and dibutyl tin; isopropyl toluene; 1,3-dichloropropane; 2,2-dichloropropane; and 1,1-dichloropropene) are not well understood. For some of these contaminants, an understanding of the differences between the pharmacokinetics of inhalation versus drinking water exposures is a primary data gap. Proposals are solicited for either modeling exposures via the inhalation, oral, or drinking water routes or filling data gaps in the understanding of the pharmacokinetic behavior of these chemicals.

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products. In several European countries, research has found pharmaceutical chemicals used for human care and veterinary applications in groundwater samples, municipal sewage treatment plant discharges, and river and stream waters; active ingredients from various personal care products have also been detected. It appears that commonly applied wastewater treatment may be inadequate for completely removing many of these chemicals or related bioactive metabolites. This results in their inadvertent discharge to ambient waters. Drinking water treatment technologies may also be inadequate for removal of these chemicals from source waters. In the U.S., confined animal feeding operations and untreated sewage are known to increase the level of nitrates and phosphates in groundwater and are also hypothesized to pollute water sources with antibiotics (resulting in resistant strains of pathogens), hormones, and other pharmaceuticals. Research on environmental occurrence, human health and ecological effects, and environmental fate for these classes of chemicals is solicited in this RFA.

RESEARCH ON PATHOGEN INFECTIVITY AND TREATMENT

Research on infectivity of Cryptosporidium. Research indicates there are differences in infectivity, virulence, and immune response in healthy human volunteers infected by various isolates of Cryptosporidium parvum genotype 2 (Okhuysen PC, Chappell, CL, Crabb JH, et al. Virulence of three distinct Cryptosporidium parvum isolates for healthy adults; Journal of Infectious Disease, 1999; 180:1275-81). Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also found that other genotypes of Cryptosporidium , including C. felis, can cause infections in immunocompromised individuals (Pieniazek NJ, Bornay-Linares FJ, Splemenda SB et al,. New Cryptosporidium genotypes in HIV-infected persons. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 1999. 5:3:444-448) . This finding highlights uncertainties about genotype-related pathogenicity and immune response. Research is solicited to improve the understanding of genotypically-linked differences in Cryptosporidium infectivity and illness in humans, such as analytical methods or models to measure and predict the degree of pathogenicity of different genotypes and their prevalence in the human population. Research is also solicited on the infectivity in healthy individuals of non-parvum Cryptosporidium species, especially those shown to have been infectious to immunocompromised individuals.

UV effectiveness for pathogen treatment. An alternative to chlorine disinfection is the use of UV technology as a primary disinfectant in surface water systems, in particular for unfiltered or small systems. UV treatment is also an alternative treatment option for compromised populations. Research is needed on the extent to which UV treatment can prevent exposure to infectious microbes in drinking water, especially when UV is used as a primary disinfectant. Evaluation of the effect of water quality parameters (e.g. natural turbidity, color, TOC) on the level of pathogen inactivation achieved by UV treatment; characterization of the effect of different states of attachment of the pathogens (e.g., clumped pathogens, pathogens attached to particles or encased in particles) on the level of inactivation achieved with UV treatment; and evaluation of the potential for injured pathogenic organisms to reactivate in distribution systems are important considerations. Specific pathogens of interest include:microsporidia (E. bieneusi and S. intestinalis), Mycobacterium avium complex, Toxoplasma gondii, caliciviruses (Norwalk and Snow Mountain viruses), coxsackieviruses and echoviruses, and adenoviruses (especially serotypes 40 and 41).

Riverbank filtration effectiveness. Research is also needed on particulate and pathogen removal through riverbank filtration, where river water recharges an alluvial aquifer by removing water through wells located near the riverbank. Sites with different water qualities and site geologies and the influence of seasonal, pumping rate, and water level issues should also be evaluated to determine conditions for maintaining pathogen removal. Riverbank filtration can significantly remove organic, inorganic, and particulate contaminants found in river water before it reaches wells; however, many of these well waters are still considered surface waters under the current drinking water regulations. An increasing number of utilities are petitioning their States for Giardia treatment credit for their riverbank filtration wells and may be seeking credits for removal of Cryptosporidium, a smaller and possibly more mobile protozoan, as well. There is little guidance for States and water utilities on how to handle such credit requests because the mechanisms and effectiveness of riverbank filtration for the removal of microbes is not fully understood.

FUNDING

Approximately $8.0 million is expected to be available in fiscal years 2000 and 2001 for awards in this program area. However, awards are subject to the availability of funds. The projected award is for total costs up to $175,000/ year with a duration of 2 or 3 years. The results of this research are intended to benefit researchers in academia and decision makers at the federal, state, and local levels.

ELIGIBILITY

Academic and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and state or local governments, are eligible under all existing authorizations. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program. Federal agencies and national laboratories funded by federal agencies (Federally-funded Research and Development Centers, FFRDCs) may not apply.

Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on a grant. FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the principal investigator, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization or principal investigator. The principal investigator's institution may provide funds through its grant from EPA to a FFRDC for research personnel, supplies, equipment, and other expenses directly related to the research. However, salaries for permanent FFRDC employees may not be provided through this mechanism.

Federal employees may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through grants made by this program. However, federal employees may interact with grantees so long as their involvement is not essential to achieving the basic goals of the grant.1 The principal investigator's institution may also enter into an agreement with a federal agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector. Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere, etc. A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application, along with an assurance from the federal agency involved which commits it to supply the specified service.

1EPA encourages interaction between its own laboratory scientists and grant principal investigators for the sole purpose of exchanging information in research areas of common interest that may add value to their respective research activities. However, this interaction must be incidental to achieving the goals of the research under a grant. Interaction that is "incidental" is not reflected in a research proposal and involves no resource commitments.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Dr. Robert E. Menzer in the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), phone (202) 564-6849, email: menzer.robert@epa.gov.

STANDARD INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION

A set of special instructions on how applicants should apply for an STAR grant is found on the NCER web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncerqa.Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application and the necessary forms for an application will be found on this web site.

Sorting Codes

The need for a sorting code to be used in the application and for mailing is described in the Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application. The sorting codes for applications submitted in response to this solicitation are

2000-STAR-L1 for HEALTH EFFECTS OF CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS

2000-STAR-L2 for PATHOGEN INFECTIVITY AND TREATMENT

The deadline for receipt of applications by NCER is no later than 4:00 p.m. ET, July 31, 2000.

CONTACTS

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA official indicated below. E-mail inquiries are preferred.

Cynthia Nolt-Helms 202 564-6763
nolt-helms.cynthia@epa.gov

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