SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - Two University of Illinois Springfield professors have received a three year grant from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture to assess the risk of pesticide use and air dispersion in urban agricultural communities.
The study is being done in collaboration with professors at Tuskegee University in Alabama.
UIS Assistant Professor of Public Heath Egbe Egiebor and Associate Professor of Public Heath Dorine Brand will get about $168,000 from the overall $500,000 grant awarded to Tuskegee University.
The study will evaluate methods for monitoring and modeling the atmospheric spread of pesticide pollutants under different weather conditions, identify hotspots, and assess the vulnerability of affected communities as greater populations are now at the edge of agricultural land due to urban growth.
Egiebor said, "We are really excited to conduct this study. It is the first time a project like this will be facilitated in two different agro-ecological zones with different production systems."
The study will be conducted in both Alabama and Illinois.
Egiebor said farmlands in the U.S. have shrunk by 215 million acres since 1954 due to urbanization.
Residents living near farmlands have reported issues with smell, noise, dust, pesticide sprays, and health problems associated with agricultural operations.
"In particular, the use of pesticides causes contamination that is transmitted via surface runoff, groundwater, and airborne residues," Egiebor said. "Overwhelming evidence shows that pesticides adversely affect humans and other living organisms as well as the environment."
Commonly used pesticides have been linked to birth defects, organ damage, psychological issues, developmental issues, certain cancers, and death.
"The project will contribute to sustainable air quality management for health and environment protection in the urban-agriculture interface and will improve long term planning and management of pesticide risk and its impacts on the environment as well as communities", Brand said.
UIS graduate students will get the chance to take part in the research and be mentored and trained during the study.