West Virginia State University (WVSU) has entered into an agreement with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) to conduct research activities relating to groundwater quality and remediation. The agreement will establish a protocol, executive research methods and publishing of results relating to the protection of West Virginia groundwater from contamination of spilled petroleum products.

Research has shown groundwater quality has been degraded throughout West Virginia as a result of mining and drilling, and improper disposal of domestic and industrial wastes. As these chemicals can be harmful to health, many clean-up techniques have been developed. However, each technique has its own disadvantage, including potential carcinogenic factors, as well as impacting blood production, the lymphatic system and the central nervous system.

“The objective of this study is to investigate key biological markers, regulators and pathways participating in absorption and accumulation of BTEX, in order to determine the key players for remediation of contaminated soil,” said Dr. Umesh K. Reddy, professor of biology at WVSU.

Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylene, collectively known as BTEX, are the major petroleum pollutants in West Virginia. Phytoremediation is a process that uses plants to remove, transfer, stabilize or destroy contaminants in soil and groundwater. The project includes $51,838 in funding to work on phytoremediation of BTEX.

The agreement is administered through the WVDEP’s Division of Water and Waste Management Groundwater Program and the WVSU Department of Biology. Experimental procedures will focus on plant and soil preparation, determination of BTEX in soil and plant samples, and depletion of BTEX in soils. 

Originally from Matt Browning for West Virginia State University News