ecoRI News - New R.I.-Based Program Takes Aim at Growing Chemical Threat

December 4, 2017

By Frank Carini

Excerpt: "Perfluorinated compounds have long been used in the production of Teflon, in non-stick coatings applied to pizza boxes and popcorn bags, and to waterproof outdoor clothing. These widely used industrial chemicals have been found in the ocean, in the food chain, and in drinking-water supplies. They also have been linked to cancer.

PFCs started accumulating in the environment and people’s bodies more than 50 years ago, according to Philippe Grandjean, professor of environmental health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He said they were first used because it was assumed these highly stable and nonreactive compounds were innocuous.

“We now know they are not,” Grandjean said. “These compounds are in our bodies. They’re all over the world. We’re decades late addressing this issue.”

A new Superfund Research Program Center at the University of Rhode Island has been created to play catch-up. The five-year, grant-funded project is a partnership with scientists from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Newton, Mass.-based Silent Spring Institute, and will make use of URI’s various academic disciplines, from pharmaceutical to engineering to oceanography. The project is designed to identify and reduce the risks of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) that pose a threat to public health."

About Highly Fluorinated Chemicals (PFASs)