In 2016, NC State and EPA scientists reported the presence of high concentrations of perfluorinated compounds in North Carolina’s Cape Fear River and and its watershed, and in the drinking water supply of more than 200,000 North Carolinians living downstream of the Chemours chemical manufacturing plant. Our center aims to determine the toxicity and bioaccumulation potential of these chemicals, and to devise methods of prevention and remediation that will restore the quality of affected North Carolinian’s water.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are emerging as a major public health problem in North Carolina (NC) and across the US. PFAS comprise a class of almost 5,000 known compounds. Their unique chemical properties have been harnessed to make consumer and industrial products more water, stain, and grease resistant; they are found in products as diverse as cosmetics and firefighting foams. PFAS are resistant to degradation, move easily through the environment, and are suspected of accumulating in living organisms. Despite increasing evidence that they are found ubiquitously in the environment, there is a paucity of knowledge about their toxicity. As a result of widespread detection in the environment and evidence of increasing human exposure we established a Center for Environmental and Human Health Effects of PFAS. The Center’s team crosses two major NC Universities, NC State and East Carolina, and is comprised of highly collaborative leaders in transdisciplinary fields that include environmental science and engineering, toxicology, immunology, environmental epidemiology, analytical chemistry, data science, and community engagement. Our Center will address pressing questions about this class of compounds and will aim to advance understanding about PFAS environmental and human exposure in impacted areas of NC, toxicity and underlying mechanisms of thyroid and immune function, bioaccumulation potential, and remediation.