Greater Research Opportunities: Persistent, Bioaccumulative Chemicals


Recipients List

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

Opening Date: December 18, 2003
Closing Date: March 23, 2004

Technical Contact: Nora Savage, 202-343-9858, email:
Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell, 202-343-9862, email:



Synopsis of Program:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD), National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), is seeking applications for research on the risk assessment, risk management and risk communication of persistent, bioaccumulative toxic compounds (PBTs) and other hazardous compounds. PBT pollutants are chemicals that are toxic, persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in food chains and, thus, pose risks to human health and ecosystems. The challenges remaining for PBT pollutants stem from the fact that they transfer rather easily among air, water, and land, and span boundaries of programs, geography, and generations. Such research includes development of methodologies for risk reduction, development of new and refinement of existing toxicological test methodologies, and development of risk assessment/risk management strategies, including data on environmental fate and transport.

In addition, EPA has identified 30 priority hazardous compounds that are toxic, commonly found as components in hazardous waste, and can be used as indicators of progress toward reducing hazardous waste generation. These compounds are persistent in the environment and adversely affect the ecosystem and human health. Research that results in a reduction in the amounts of such compounds that are produced is of specific interest to the Agency.

Technical Contact:

Nora Savage; Phone: 202-343-9858; email:

Eligibility Information:

Institutions of higher education that are not highly funded for development of environmental research capacity are eligible to apply to this announcement. For purposes of this solicitation, EPA considers such institutions to be those listed in the National Science Foundation report, “Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: Fiscal Year 2001,” Table B-15, column 2, that receive $50 million or less in annual research and development funding ( (PDF, 25pp., 94.16 KB). The full report can be found at: See full announcement for more details.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 4 awards
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $1.3 million total costs
Potential Funding per Grant: Up to $150,000/year with a duration of 2 or 3 years and no more than a total of $325,000, including direct and indirect costs. Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Sorting Code Number: 2004-STAR-G1

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66:515


The EPA is interested in stimulating and nurturing environmental research and educational opportunities at post-secondary educational institutions that are not highly funded for development of environmental research capacity, including in particular institutions with substantial minority student enrollment. Increased resources not only will enable such institutions to better serve their student populations, but also to use the strategic positions in their communities to provide critical information and to develop and implement risk communication strategies. In this announcement, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD), National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), invites grant applications from such institutions for research relevant to the reduction of risks to human health and the environment from current and future exposure to persistent bioaccumulative toxic pollutants (PBTs).

PBTs are associated with a range of adverse human health effects, including effects on the nervous system, reproductive and developmental problems, and carcinogenic and mutagenic effects. Particularly susceptible populations include people who eat large amounts of fish from waters contaminated with certain PBTs, pregnant and nursing women, and young children. In addition, birds and mammals may have reproductive and genetic damage as a result of exposure to these toxic compounds.


Persistent, bioaccumulative toxic pollutants are those that partition primarily to water, sediment or soil, and are not removed at rates adequate to prevent their bioaccumulation in aquatic or terrestrial species. Chemicals characterized as suspected persistent bioaccumulators typically have been confirmed as such based on accepted test methods. Follow-on toxicity testing leads to their identification as persistent and bioaccumulative toxic chemicals.

These pollutants can pose significant national health and environmental concerns. In addition, these contaminants can readily transfer from one media to another; i.e., from air to water, from land to water, from water to air, etc. Once ingested by small fish, mammals and birds, these substances bioaccumulate, resulting in much higher levels in animals than may be found in the physical environment. These high, toxic concentrations are subsequently transferred to humans through ingestion. Repeated exposure and ingestion may result in a variety of adverse health effects including damage to the central nervous and reproductive systems, development of cancer and genetic alterations. Young children, developing fetuses, and frequent fish consumers are especially at risk. While the total number of fish advisories decreased in 2001, the number of lake (+2%) and river miles (+3.5%) under advisories has continued to increase since 1993. The decrease in total advisories is due to a revision in the reporting methodology of Wisconsin and North Dakota, which both recently changed several hundred waterbody-specific advisories to a single statewide advisory.

While most of the current releases of PBTs occur in industrialized nations, some of these compounds have been found in remote areas, including the Arctic. Due to the prevailing low temperatures, these compounds have increased persistence and their concentrations are expected to steadily increase over time.

On November 16, 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Agency-wide Multimedia Strategy for 13 Priority, Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) Pollutants (PBT Strategy). (These compounds are listed in Table 1 below.) The goal of the PBT Strategy is to identify and reduce risks to human health and the environment from current and future exposure to priority PBT pollutants.

The PBT Strategy outlines an approach to achieving PBT risk reductions that includes conducting research and analysis on these compounds. Research needs include developing strategies for risk reduction that include the identification and control of the primary pathways for environmental releases, developing new and refining existing test methodologies, developing risk assessment/risk management strategies, and identifying methodologies to prevent environmental releases of PBTs.

Other compounds have been selected for reduction in usage and waste generation because of their toxicity and prevalence in the environment. Innovative research efforts involving recycling, substitution of more benign compounds, and elimination via novel processes are of particular interest (these compounds are listed in Table 2 below.)

Table 1 - Priority PBTs

Specific chemicals of interest for risk assessment/management, test methodology refinement, and information on, as well as prevention of, environmental releases include:

  • Aldrin/Dieldrin
  • Alkyl-lead
  • Benzo(a)pyrene
  • Camphechlor (Toxaphene)
  • Chlordane
  • Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT/DDD/DDE)
  • Dioxins and Furans
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • Mercury and Mercury Compounds
  • Mirex
  • Octachlorostyrene
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Table 2 - Other Priority Chemicals

Specific compounds of interest for minimization and reduction of use via development of alternative processes or replacement with more benign compounds include:

  • 1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene
  • 1,2,4,5-Tetrachlorobenzene
  • 2,4,5-Trichlorophenol
  • 4-Bromophenyl phenyl ether
  • Acenaphthene
  • Acenaphthylene
  • Anthracene
  • Benzo(g,h,i)perylene
  • Cadmium
  • Dibenzofuran
  • Dioxins/Furans
  • Endosulfan (alpha, beta)
  • Fluorene
  • Heptachlor/heptachlor epoxide
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • Hexachlorobutadiene
  • Hexachlorocyclohexane, gamma-HCH
  • Hexachloroethane
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Methoxychlor
  • Naphthalene
  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbons
  • Pendimethalin
  • Pentachloro-benzene
  • Pentachloronitrobenzene
  • Pentachlorophenol
  • Phenanthrene
  • Pyrene
  • Trifluralin


To achieve the goal of reducing the risk of PBTs in the environment, the EPA has identified critical research needs. In this Request for Applications (RFA), the Agency is soliciting proposals for research in one or more of the following areas: fate, transport, risk assessment and management, risk reduction, identification and control of PBT releases into the environment, and toxicological test methodologies for PBTs. However, applicants are not limited to these areas, as long as the proposed research is responsive to the goals of this RFA.

Areas of research for the 12 PBTs:

Risk Assessment/Characterization Methodologies:

  • Test Methodologies
  • Biotransformation data
  • Correlation between emissions and environmental concentrations
  • Exposure/bioavailability data
  • Determination of routes and methods of transport between media
  • Elucidation of critical conditions determining ultimate fate
  • Assessment of long-term effects on the environment
  • Development of monitoring technologies/processes for PBTs in multiple environmental media (i.e., air, water, sediments)
  • Sequestration methodologies for elemental mercury

Risk Management Tools:

  • Remediation techniques, particularly in difficult environments (i.e., Arctic)
  • Pollution prevention methods
  • Tools for predictive exposures to PBTs for subpopulations

Risk Communication Tools or Methods:

  • Identification of preventive measures to reduce exposure

Areas of research for the 30 compounds identified for reduction/minimization include:
Chemical Minimization Techniques or Methods:

  • Identification of more benign compounds to replace usage
  • Development of alternative manufacturing
  • Development of recycling and reuse options for products containing these compounds


It is anticipated that a total of approximately $1.3 million will be awarded in this program depending on the availability of funds. EPA anticipates funding approximately four grants under this RFA. The projected award per grant is $100,000 to $150,000 per year total costs, for up to 3 years. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $325,000, including direct and indirect costs, for the 3-year period will not be considered.


Institutions of higher education that are not highly funded for development of environmental research capacity are eligible to apply to this announcement. For purposes of this solicitation, EPA considers such institutions to be those which receive $50 million or less in annual research and development funding and are listed in the National Science Foundation report, "Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: Fiscal Year 2001," Table B-15, column 2 ( (PDF, 25pp., 94.16 KB). The entire report can be found at

Eligible institutions with substantial minority student enrollment are particularly encouraged to apply. Examples of such schools listed by the U.S. Department of Education as "Accredited Post-secondary Minority Institutions" on the four web sites shown below, consistent with Executive Orders 13125 (Increasing Participation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders), 13230 (Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans), 13256 (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), and 13270 (Tribal Colleges and Universities), which encourage building of the capacity of minority-serving institutions to provide high-quality education.

Alaska - California:
Colorado - New York:
North Carolina - Wisconsin:
American Samoa - Virgin Islands:

National laboratories funded by federal agencies (Federally-funded Research and Development Centers, “FFRDCs”) may not apply. 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, organization, or governance 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 agencies may not apply. Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on a grant, and 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. EPA 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. This interaction must be incidental to achieving the goals of the research under a grant. Interaction that is “incidental” does not involve resource commitments.

The principal investigator’s institution may 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. 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.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Thomas Barnwell in NCER, phone 202-343-9862, email:


Institutional cost-sharing is not required.


Standard Instructions for Submitting an Application

The Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application, including the necessary forms, can be found on the NCER web site

Sorting Code

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 code for applications submitted in response to this solicitation is 2004-STAR-G1.


Applications must be received by the application receipt date listed in this announcement. If an application is received after that date, it will be returned to the applicant without review.

The following is the schedule for this RFA. It should be noted that this schedule may be changed without notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement.

Application Receipt Date: March 23, 2004
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: October 2004

The application review process will be found in the Standard Instructions. Consideration of an application’s merit is based on the following criteria: (1) the originality and creativity of the proposed research, the appropriateness and adequacy of the research methods proposed and the quality assurance statement; (2) the qualifications of the principal investigator(s) and other key personnel; (3) the responsiveness of the proposal to the research needs identified for the topic area; (4) the availability and/or adequacy of the facilities and equipment proposed for the project; and (5) although budget information does not reflect on the application’s scientific merit, the reviewers are asked to provide their view on the appropriateness and/or adequacy of the proposed budget.


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

Nora Savage


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 66.515.

The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in Clean Air Act, Section 103, as amended, Public Law 95-95, 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.; Clean Water Act, Section 104, as amended, Public Law 95-217, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.; Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 1442, as amended, Public Law 93- 523, Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 10, as amended 15 U.S.C. 2609; Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Section 20, as amended 7 U.S.C. 136r.


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