An LSU AgCenter researcher has won two grants totaling $400,000 to study water and soil contamination in southwest Louisiana.

Yijun Xu, an environmental hydrologist in the AgCenter School of Renewable Natural Resources, will study and analyze the effects on the environment from several chemicals. Xu also will study how to mitigate the chemicals’ effects on human health and remediate their environmental damage.

One study will focus on benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene; the other study will focus on hydrogen sulfide. The chemicals are byproducts that may come from oil refineries and associated oil processing, production, transportation and storage.

The studies are funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The foundation is administering the grants as part of a court order that resulted from a plea agreement between the U.S. government and the Pelican Refining Co. in Lake Charles.