Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

March 25, 2020

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Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been featured in the news recently as “forever chemicals.” They are found globally and have been detected in soil, surface water and groundwater, wildlife, and humans. While researchers have established links between exposure to some PFAS and disease, many of these chemicals have not been studied and there is still much to learn about how PFAS may be affecting human health. With all of this attention and our evolving scientific understanding, some community members question what it means for their health and what they can do to reduce or prevent their exposures. In this webinar, we heard from three experts who have been examining PFAS and working with communities to address their concerns. They addressed our current knowledge, highlighted accomplishments, discussed the importance of working with communities, and noted research and communication opportunities.



Detlef Knappe, Ph.D.

Detlef Knappe, Ph.D., is the S. James Ellen Distinguished Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at North Carolina State University. He is interested in drinking water quality and treatment, water reuse, organic micropollutants, development of water treatment processes for polar and persistent organic pollutants, and the fate of organic pollutants in solid waste landfills. He is a trustee of the American Water Works Association’s Water Science and Research Division and a member of the North Carolina Secretaries’ Science Advisory Board.

Laurel Schaider, Ph.D.

Laurel Schaider, Ph.D., is a research scientist at Silent Spring Institute, where she leads the institute’s water quality research on PFAS and other contaminants of emerging concern. Her research focuses on characterizing PFAS exposures from drinking water, understanding health effects associated with PFAS, identifying other sources of PFAS exposure such as food packaging, investigating socioeconomic disparities in exposures to drinking water contaminants, and working with communities to develop research studies and resources to address their concerns.

Phil Brown, Ph.D.

Phil Brown, Ph.D., is University Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Health Sciences at Northeastern University, and he also directs Northeastern’s Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute. His current research includes multiple projects on PFAS (including biomonitoring, analysis of activism, water monitoring, and policy analysis), biomonitoring and household exposure, social policy concerning flame retardants, the ethics of reporting back research data to participants, data privacy, and health social movements.

For More Information

Center for Environmental and Health Effects of PFAS
This center, housed at North Carolina State University, aims to determine the toxicity and bioaccumulation potential of PFAS and to devise methods of prevention and remediation that will restore the quality of affected North Carolinians’ water.

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances - The Social Discovery of a Class of Emerging Contaminants
A project affiliated with the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University.

Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
NIEHS’s overview of PFAS.

PFAS Exchange
An online resource center about PFAS contaminants in drinking water - helping communities understand their exposures and take action to protect their health.

STEEP - Sources, Transport, Exposure & Effects of PFAS
This center, housed at the University of Rhode Island, addresses the ubiquitous human health threat of PFAS through rigorous interdisciplinary science to redefine dose exposure benchmarks, develop novel detection techniques, and prepare communities to expect long-term solutions for contaminated sites.

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Send comments, questions, and suggestions for future webinar topics to [email protected].