Sunday, February 16, 2020

Chapel Hill, NC, student wins PEYA and EPA award for innovative pollution removal method

Joshua Zhou, an 11th grade student from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, recently won a 2015 President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award for his water quality improvement method.


Zhou developed an efficient, low-cost and environmentally friendly way to reduce pollution, including 2,3,7,8 – tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), and improve water quality. Inspired by the inefficiencies and high costs of current TCDD remediation technologies, Zhou developed semiconductor crystals that can degrade pollutants using visible light energy, which work on both TCDD and most other pollutants. TCDD is a manmade toxin created during manufacturing and incomplete combustion. It is both detrimental to aquatic ecosystems and to human health. Zhou said he hopes his technology will provide pollution remediation options for developing countries.

He received his award in a recent ceremony held at the White House, featuring remarks from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s Chief Senior Advisor Dr. John Holdren and Education Secretary John King, as well as the other 63 students and 18 teachers to receive awards this year.

The PEYA awards are open to students from kindergarten through the end of high school and recognize exceptional environmental stewardship and leadership.

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EPA Region 4 (Southeast)

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