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September 1, 2005
DH 05 RH06
Contact: Russ Hudson,
Media Relations Coordinator
(310) 243-2455/2001


NSF Grant Will Fund Study of Movement of Water Contaminant

Carson, CA – An $84,569 grant has been awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to assess the movement of the contaminant methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, in groundwater in several regions in California.

The award went to CSU Dominguez Hills Associate Professor Brendan McNulty, chair, Earth Sciences, Geology and Geography Department. McNulty, who has worked on structural geology projects on three continents and has been published repeatedly, will work with Weixing Tong, an associate engineering geologist and acting unit chief for the Los Angeles Coastal Unit of the State Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region.

MTBE is a harmful contaminant and one of its metabolites, formaldehyde, is considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a probable human carcinogen. There are no known naturally occurring sources of MTBE, according to the statement submitted to the NSF in the grant application’s project description. MTBE is an additive in gasoline that started in 1979 then was ordered phased out of use by Gov. Gray Davis in 1999. McNulty said data indicates that the MTBE entered the groundwater primarily from leakage in storage tanks.

The project the two-year grant has funded will be used by McNulty, Tong and a number of students in the Dominguez Hills Earth Sciences, Geology and Geography department to utilize the extensive data available from the Regional Water Quality Control Board and other sources. The purpose is to determine the rate and area covered by MTBE migration through geological formations and rock types in areas in the San Francisco Bay, San Joaquin Valley, Victorville, Orange County and San Diego. The data collected in the study areas can be used as models in other regions.

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University Communications & Public Affairs
Welch Hall, B-363
1000 E. Victoria St.
Carson, CA 90747

Dominguez Hills Dateline is produced by University Advancement/ University Communications
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Media Contact:

Pamela Hammond
University Communications
& Public Affairs
(310) 243-2001


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Last updated Thursday, September 1, 3:44 p.m.,
by Joanie Harmon