What Do Coal Ash, CAFOs, and CAPs Have in Common?



What do coal ash, confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and criteria air pollutants (CAPs) have in common?




The answer is that these are three of the most pressing current environmental issues impacting the health of North Carolinians.


The Duke University Environmental Health Scholars Program held their annual Fall Forum on October 27 and 28 at the 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Durham to take a deeper dive into these issues. Three panel discussions focused on the following themes:

  • The effects of the Clean Smokestacks Act on North Carolina health and the environment
  • Environmental and human health risks of coal ash ponds in North Carolina
  • Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations’ (CAFOs) effects on North Carolina


As stated in Duke Law Daily, the forum exists to “bring about changes in the environment, make new connections in the community as well as the political front, and make a change in the daily lives of North Carolina residents.” Held annually, it offers an opportunity for advocates and researchers alike to share knowledge with the public on pressing topics facing North Carolina’s environment and the health of its citizens.


Duke Superfund Center RTC staffer Bryan Luukinen attended the meeting, which was also attended by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Superfund Research Center staff. The contamination of waterways in the state is directly related to one of the Duke SRC’s focus areas for community engagement and previous work on fish consumption advisories. Our planned work on potential contamination of soil at community gardens also concerns pollutant sources such as those from coal ash ponds.


The forum featured presentations by speakers from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, EarthJustice, the NC Division of Air Quality, North Carolina State University, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 


The conference schedule, along with slides from the presentations given can be found here