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North Carolina State University

Superfund Research Program

Community Engagement Core

Project Leader: Katy May
Co-Investigators: Kemp Burdette (Cape Fear River Watch), Emily Sutton (Haw River Assembly), Jonelle Kimbrough (Sustainable Sandhills)
Grant Number: P42ES031009
Funding Period: 2020-2025
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Project Summary (2020-2025)

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water are challenging environmental and public health concerns for communities, policymakers, and scientists. PFAS are a broad chemical class representing over 3,000 chemicals. They are valued for their non-stick properties and are used in many water- and stain-resistant products, as well as in firefighting foam. The multiple chemicals classified as PFAS and a lack of toxicological and human health information make PFAS contamination a difficult issue for many communities to address. The Cape Fear River basin is the largest river basin in North Carolina. It provides drinking water for more than 1.5 million people and has been impacted by PFAS contamination from many sources. The Community Engagement Core (CEC) works to help communities impacted by PFAS contamination along the Cape Fear River become better equipped to address PFAS exposure, as well as other environmental health concerns. The CEC engages community organizations that are currently working to address PFAS in drinking water. It works with these partners to measure social connectivity and assess and improve environmental health literacy so residents can make informed prevention and intervention decisions for improved environmental public health. Infrastructure, resources, and educational materials are being supplied by the CEC to increase the capacity of community organizations. Environmental Health Fellows, student mini grant research funding, and access to SRP analytical resources support local research and engagement efforts around PFAS. SRP researchers and trainees participate in CEC training and programming to improve their capability to collaborate with impacted communities. As best practices emerge, the CEC is also contributing to community-engaged scholarship.

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