Dr. Eric Coker & His Team set to Receive EPA Grant for Research on PFAS Exposure

Project Title: Building Resilience to PFAS Exposure on Vulnerable Coastal Communities Prone to Extreme Weather Floods: Brevard County FL as a Case Study

Investigators: Deliz Quiñones, Katherine (PI); Coker, Eric; Bonzongo, Jean Claude; Bowden, John; Jutla, Antarpreet 

Background: Over the past few decades per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination has grown into a serious global health threat. The occurrence of PFAS in the environment is of critical concern due to their prevalent use and release, recalcitrant nature, concerns about toxicity, and known exposure risk. Despite widespread PFAS contamination, ubiquitous population-level exposure, and toxicological and epidemiological evidence of adverse health effects, there are no US federal standards that require monitoring and regulation of PFAS. As communities across the U.S. learn more about PFAS contamination, the uncertainty about their occurrence, associated health effects, and potential routes of exposure is creating anxiety among impacted communities like those in Brevard County. 

Proposed Study: Overall, this project aims to understand how flooding caused by hurricanes influences distribution of PFAS in the environment, and how societal factors can exacerbate health impacts of PFAS exposure. For this, our interdisciplinary team will:

–     characterize PFAS species diversity and concentration ranges in water, soil, sediments, and biological samples before and immediately after a flooding event,

–     design a simulation model to forecast PFAS transport and risk exposure of different communities after flooding events,

–     build community resilience to reduce exposure and possible health effects of PFAS

A key innovation of our proposed research is the integration and application of knowledge from different disciplines.  This study will be the first to implement a Holistic Environmental Health Research Model, which considers natural, social and built environments to assess transport of emergent pollutant and their risk exposure.

-Katherine Deliz Quiñones, PI