Research Triangle Environmental Health Collaborative
Co-Sponsored with NC PFAST Network
12th Annual Environmental Health Summit
PFAS: Integrating Science and Solutions in NC
October 23-24, 2019
NC Biotech Center, RTP, NC
Agenda and registration intel soon forthcoming
Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) consist of thousands of chemical substances that have been widely used in manufacturing since the 1950s to create products that resist heat, stains, grease, and water. Example uses include stain-resistant fabrics, non-stick cookware, fire-fighting foam, and many others. In common among these compounds is the presence of the carbon-fluorine bond, which is the strongest chemical bond in nature and which lends PFAS substances their desirable properties. However, the strength of these bonds also means that PFAS compounds persist in the environment for long time periods. Due to their wide use and persistence, PFAS compounds are now ubiquitous in the environment. Recent research has found that PFAS compounds are present in the water supplies of millions of Americans at concentrations above health advisory levels recently established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The discovery of PFAS compounds in the Wilmington, NC, water supply in January 2017 led to widespread concern and legal action by the NC Department of Environmental Quality to prohibit the discharge of PFAS compounds into the Cape Fear River by Chemours Corp.
Despite their widespread use, the ubiquitous occurrence of PFAS compounds in the environment has been recognized only recently. As a result, there are no national regulations on permissible levels of these compounds. EPA’s health advisory, for example, is limited to a small subset of PFAS and is not enforceable. Several states also have established health advisories, but substances included and allowable levels vary from state to state. Health effects are uncertain due to the relatively small number of studies completed to date. As a result, state policymakers have struggled with how to respond when PFAS contaminants are discovered in drinking water and other environmental media. Key questions include:
- When is intervention necessary to prevent adverse health effects from PFAS?
- Which populations and communities are most at risk of PFAS exposure?
- What types of interventions (for example, water treatment technologies) are effective in removing PFAS, and what are the costs and benefits of the different intervention options?
- How can PFAS risks be communicated to the public?
- How can future PFAS exposures be prevented?
Summit Goals/Three Work Groups
The goals of this Summit are to (i) – highlight recent research on new and emerging PFAS chemicals in the environment, with an emphasis on PFAS in NC, and identify and prioritize data gaps, including implications for risk assessment, (ii) – highlight lessons learned in NC from the Cape Fear River incident and overall PFAS experience, and (iii) – highlight emerging “best practices” in protecting the public from adverse health effects of PFAS exposure and the next emerging contaminants and properly communicating all the risks.
Martin Armes, The Collaborative
Maureen Avakian, MDB Inc.
David Brown, The Collaborative
Richard Di Giulio, Duke
Tracy Dombek, RTI International
Ariana Eily, Duke
Kathleen Gray, UNC Chapel Hill
Jane Hoppin, NC State
Marisa Incremona, NC State
Crystal Lee-Pow Jackson, NC Division of Public Health
Christopher Lau, US EPA
Keith Levine, RTI International
Jackie MacDonald Gibson, UNC Chapel Hill/Indiana
Scott Masten, NIEHS
Megan Rodgers, UNC Chapel Hill
Thaddeus Schug, NIEHS
Steve Wall, UNC Chapel Hill
Jory Weintraub, Duke
Hal Zenick, US EPA (retired)