Recap of Town Hall

On Saturday October 24th, 2020, Dr. Heather Stapleton, Principal Investigator on the Duke PFAS Exposure Study, and colleagues held a virtual town hall to release their teams’ study findings.  

We had a great turnout with over 100 viewers on Zoom, over 25 on Facebook Live, and hundreds of views since sharing the recorded video on Facebook. Dr. Stapleton began with a brief overview and history on PFAS before delving into her team’s collected data and analyses. She presented data on PFAS levels in the Haw River, and how streamflow and seasonal changes cause PFAS levels to vary over time. The presentation highlighted potential and known sources of PFAS in the Haw River, the drinking water source for the city of Pittsboro, and furthermore, what lead Dr. Stapleton to conduct this research study.

The latter part of the town hall presentation focused on the blood and drinking water analyses of 49 Pittsboro residents who volunteered to be a part of our study. This exposure study concluded that the levels of PFAS found in Pittsboro residents’ blood serum are two to four times higher than the general U.S. population, but are also similar to the blood serum results from participants in a similar study conducted in Wilmington, North Carolina. Dr. Stapleton also presented a bar graph representing each individual drinking water sample taken from the 49 study participants’ homes, which displays wide variability of PFAS in Pittsboro drinking water, from non-detectable PFAS levels, up to 452 ng/L. While there are no enforceable NC state or federal regulations regarding PFAS in drinking water, the non-enforceable EPA health advisory level for two types of PFAS (PFOA and PFOS) is 70 ng/L.

Dr. Stapleton proposed options for the general public to reduce their PFAS exposure at home, and also pointed out that the PFAS problem is not limited to Pittsboro and the Haw River. A study conducted by Jane Hoppin and colleagues at North Carolina State University, has found elevated PFAS levels in the drinking water and serum from residents in the downstream communities of Wilmington, NC and Fayetteville, NC. The problem-at-large, according to the researchers, is that all of these locations draw their drinking water from the Cape Fear River Basin, and further research is needed to fully grasp the gravity of the PFAS problem in this watershed.

A recording of the town hall can be found here. Check out our resources, including a fact sheet describing which in-home water filters can best remove PFAS from tap water.

What you can do:
  • Sign up for emails regarding this PFAS study and to be notified when we are recruiting new study participants.
  • Reach out to your local and federal elected officials regarding PFAS regulations.
  • Advocate for more research in North Carolina, and nationwide to find and stop the source of PFAS before it enters your local drinking water treatment plant.
  • Install or buy a filter for your drinking water.
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