2019 Summit

PFAS: Integrating Science and Solutions in NC

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

2019 Summit Final Report

2019 Summit Agenda

2019 Summit Presentations


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

To highlight recent research from the NC PFAS Testing Network and facilitate conversation about strategies to limit human and environmental exposure to PFAS.



Three Work Groups

Group A: What are the missing links in our understanding of fate and transport of PFAS in the environment?

Group B: Which alternative treatment and disposal options offer most promise?

Group C: How can emerging knowledge about PFAS be factored into risk assessment?


Planning Committee

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)