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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 19, 2005

Valentine Receives $150,000 Grant To Study Lead In Drinking Water

Richard Valentine, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering, researcher in the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, and environmental assessment investigator in the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center, has been awarded a two-year, $150,000 grant from the American Water Works Association Research Foundation for a study of lead in drinking water.

Valentine's study, titled, "The Role of Free Chlorine, Chloramines, and Natural Organic Matter in the Release of Lead into Drinking Water," focuses on processes leading to increases in lead concentration.

He says that the dramatic recent increase in lead concentrations in the drinking water of Washington, D.C. suggests that switching to the use of chloramines from free chlorine changed the nature of the type of lead oxides normally formed on lead-bearing material. "The primary objective of this study is to investigate the mechanistic basis of the causes of excessive lead release into drinking water as related to disinfection practices," he says. He adds that the findings hopefully will lead to treatment strategies that reduce lead concentrations to ensure acceptable levels.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the many health effects of lead include its harm to the brain and central nervous system -- especially among children -- resulting in behavior and learning problems.

Valentine teaches courses in environmental chemistry and physical and chemical processes, and his current research interests include environmental chemistry and physical and chemical processes in natural and engineered systems, especially water treatment and remediation of contaminated soils. His projects include: photo degradation of humic substances as related to the formation of trace gases; the chemistry of disinfectants in drinking water; mineral dissolution processes; the use of metal oxides as adsorbents in drinking water treatment; reactions of hydrogen peroxide in the subsurface environment; treatment and detoxification of contaminated soils; and the role of the pipe-water interface in the determination of drinking water quality.

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