Complexities of studying per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were shared by NIEHS grantees and other experts during a congressional hearing. Witnesses discussed how increased research and development can better inform regulation and strengthen methods for cleaning up PFAS in the environment.
The Dec. 7 hearing was held jointly by the Subcommittees on Environment and on Research and Technology, which are part of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in the U.S. House of Representatives.
PFAS are a large class of manmade chemicals used in a variety of industrial and consumer products, such as firefighting foam and food packaging. The substances are known as forever chemicals because they are slow to break down and can accumulate in animals and humans.
“There are many outstanding questions related to PFAS fate and transport; toxicity; exposure pathways; treatment and destruction; remediation; and essential use,” said Chairwoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) during her opening remarks. “To answer these questions, we must support an interdisciplinary, collaborative, and integrated approach. It is critical to develop partnerships between state and local entities, academia, nongovernmental stakeholders, and the federal government.”
Participants described challenges associated with detecting PFAS, assessing their toxicity, and removing them from the environment. They emphasized the importance of government funding for research that informs health-protective policies and the need to share information with the public so that individuals can prevent harmful exposures.
NIEHS, 2 February 2022