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EPA Awards North Carolina State University $900,000 in Funding to Research Potential Environmental Impacts of PFAS Substances in Waste Streams

09/19/2019
Contact Information: 
Dawn Harris-Young (region4press@epa.gov)
(404) 562-8421 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main)

RALEIGH, N.C. (Sept. 19, 2019) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced North Carolina State University as one of eight organizations to receive a share of $6 million in funding to expand the understanding of the environmental risks posed by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in waste streams and identify practical approaches to manage the potential impacts as PFAS enters the environment.

“These grants will help improve EPA’s understanding of the characteristics and impacts of PFAS in waste streams and enhance our efforts to address PFAS,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Today’s announcement is just one of the many ways we are delivering on the PFAS Action Plan – the most comprehensive, multi-media research and risk communication plan ever issued by the agency to address an emerging chemical of concern.

“I am very excited to be awarded an EPA STAR to study landfill gas as a source of PFAS.  With my colleagues at Oregon State, we have done considerable work on the release of PFAS to landfill leachate,” said North Carolina State University Department of Civil, Construction, & Environmental Engineering Distinguished University Professor and Head Morton Barlaz. “This research will fill the gap on understanding the importance of the gas phase as a PFAS release mechanism.”

North Carolina State University will receive $900,000 in funding to characterize and estimate the amount of PFAS present in landfill gas and the amount of PFAS fugitive emissions produced.

Taking concrete actions to address PFAS is one of EPA’s highest priorities. EPA’s recently released PFAS Action Plan identifies both short-term solutions for addressing PFAS chemicals and long-term strategies that will help provide the tools and technologies states, tribes and local communities need to clean up sites and provide clean, safe drinking water to their residents.

PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. PFAS are found in a wide array of consumer and industrial products. Due to widespread use and persistence in the environment, most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS. EPA continues to evaluate the potential risk of these compounds to human health and the environment, but there is evidence that chronic exposure above specific levels to certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects.

PFAS have been found in solid waste, landfills and surrounding environmental media (soil, groundwater), leachates, landfill gas, wastewater effluents, and biosolids. However, current treatment options are limited, as many conventional treatment methods are ineffective. In funding these projects, EPA is specifically supporting research to identify or develop innovative methods to treat or manage PFAS before it enters the environment to minimize its risks to humans and ecosystems. The resulting data will help researchers understand the occurrence, fate and transport of PFAS and identify methods or technologies to better manage PFAS-containing waste.

For more information on EPA’s PFAS Action Plan: https://www.epa.gov/pfas

For more information on EPA’s STAR recipients:

https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipients.display/rfa_id/643/records_per_page/ALL