PFAS Research

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are man-made chemicals that have been used in consumer goods and fabrics since the 1940’s. For decades, PFAS have been highly desirable in the manufacturing industry due to their resistance to grease, oil, and water. They can be found in paints, water resistant clothing, cookware, carpeting, and cleaning products.

Due to their water and oil resistant nature, PFAS have become a growing interest among health researchers, as they do not breakdown in soil, water, or air. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, because of their widespread use and persistence in the environment, PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world. Studies have shown that exposure to PFAS may effect liver, pancreas, and thyroid function, change hormone levels, and increase the risk of certain cancers. More than 5000 PFAS chemicals are known to exist, and some of them may bioaccumulate over time, whereby the human body absorbs more PFAS than it can eliminate, elevating the risk for adverse health effects.

The Stapleton Lab at Duke has become heavily involved in PFAS research, and is working on various projects in North Carolina to test study participants' blood, as well as drinking water sources for specific PFAS chemicals. One of the most time-sensitive PFAS research studies in the U.S. is the contamination of the Cape Fear River Basin in North Carolina, which has proven to harbor a specific PFAS chemical known as GenX. Dr. Stapleton’s Lab is collaborating with other researchers at Duke and at other universities, to address the prevalence of GenX in the Cape Fear River and its tributaries.


Click either heading below to learn more about ongoing PFAS research projects in the Stapleton Lab

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