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Villanova University wins federal funding to reduce pharmaceuticals in the environment


01/27/2006, PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented a $101,125 pollution prevention grant to Villanova University in Delaware County, Pa. today to study what can be done to reduce the presence of pharmaceuticals in the environment.

Villanova will carry out a project to prevent pharmaceutically-active chemicals from entering the environment. Under the direction of Dr. Rominder Suri, director of the Villanova Center for the Environment, the project will identify ways to better manage how prescription and non-prescription pharmaceuticals are discarded from university dormitories. Additionally, the project is developing technology to reduce pollution by preventing pharmaceutically-active chemicals from leaving municipal wastewater treatment plants.

“Villanova’s project is significant because it gives us a head start at working on ways to effectively reduce pharmaceuticals in the environment while continuing to learn more about this emerging environmental issue,” said Donald S. Welsh, EPA’s mid-Atlantic regional administrator. “Although EPA is funding this project, the results of Villanova’s work can be useful for other universities that are voluntarily taking steps to reduce pollution on their campuses as their commitment to improving the environment.”

“The leadership of EPA in tackling this problem is exemplary and commendable,” said Suri. “They are recognizing the problem and are taking steps to protect the environment and human populations while at the same time helping the industry by developing treatment technologies and innovative waste minimization approaches.”

For the last 10 years, scientists have been measuring pharmaceutical contamination of lakes, streams, and groundwater. Traces of drugs, excreted by people and livestock, have been found in numerous water sources. Many of these chemicals are “hormone mimics” and interfere with the reproductive system of aquatic organisms. They can have a detrimental effect on the local ecology and sensitive human populations, such as pregnant women, children or the elderly.

The grant comes from EPA’s source reduction and pollution prevention program that supports efforts to reduce or eliminate pollution as well as innovations to develop pollution prevention projects of general interest. For more information please visit


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