Rutgers receives $1 M. for water research

<p>The study will further the scientific evidence on the human health effects of PFAS and inform communities exposed to the contaminated drinking water.</p>

The study will further the scientific evidence on the human health effects of PFAS and inform communities exposed to the contaminated drinking water.


Rutgers University, along with six other institutes, will be receiving approximately $1 million to study polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals in the water in seven U.S. cities, according to an article on NJ Spotlight. 

The sites in New Jersey include Paulsboro, West Deptford and Gloucester County, where high levels of PFAS — which have been linked by researchers to a number of different illnesses including immune system problems, high cholesterol and cancer-related illnesses — have been spotted, according to the article. 

“There is much that is unknown about the health effects of exposures to these chemicals,” said Patrick Breysse, director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Environmental Health, in a statement, according to the article. “The multi-site study will advance the scientific evidence on the human health effects of PFAS and provide some answers to communities exposed to the contaminated drinking water.”

The study is giving out the grants to begin its second phase, according to the article. The first phase collected data on PFAS’ prevalence in these areas, where private and public water supplies were impacted by firefighter foam used on chemicals. 

The study’s purpose is to allow communities and government agencies to know how to respond to PFAS pollution, according to the article. It is unclear if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would participate or use the study’s information. 

The ATSDR has also proposed stricter regulations on the chemicals, which were much stricter than the regulations recommended by the EPA, according to the article. 

In the past, Rutgers researchers have found that people were exposed to PFNA, a similar chemical, at four times the national average. The researchers also found higher levels of cholesterol, according to the article. 

Now, the new study, which started Oct. 1, will have 1,000 adults and 300 children who will be recruited in the next 6 to 12 months. The subjects will be living in an area where Solvay Solexis, a chemical company, used PFAS before voluntarily halting its use in 2010, according to the article. 

Robert Laumbach, an associate professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health, said the study will reconstruct exposures, and then evaluate PFNA and PFAS chemicals in the blood, which persist for years, being dubbed “forever chemicals,” according to the article. 

“We will work closely with the Paulsboro and West Deptford communities to maximize the benefits of the study for community members,” Laumbach said, according to the article. “There will be a community advisory board and community participation in how we design and implement the study.”


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