Research coalition works to better understand impacts of PFAS

The director of Michigan State University’s Center for PFAS Research says the organization is focusing on solutions for farmers who are impacted by ‘forever chemicals.’

Fisheries and Wildlife professor Cheryl Murphy tells Brownfield there are a lot of unknowns about how PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, affects farming and the food supply.

“If PFAS is on your farm, it’s not necessarily a death sentence for your farm,” she says.  “There might be some solutions that can be done, maybe there’s ways of remediating the soil, maybe there’s ways of stopping the water.”

Nearly 3,000 sites have been identified across the U.S., and some experts estimate nearly 20 million acres of cropland could be contaminated.

MSU professor Kevin Elliott contributed to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine which calls for expanded PFAS blood testing for people most at risk.

“And one of the groups that we mentioned may very well have an elevated history of exposure was farmers who have put biosolids onto their fields,” he shares.

PFAS exposure has been linked to negative health impacts including cancer.

New legislation introduced by Michigan Democrats last week would hold polluters accountable by setting stricter cleanup standards, increasing transparency, and strengthening legal options for victims.

Brownfield interviewed Murphy during the recent Center for PFAS Research Symposium at Michigan State University.

Photo courtesy of the State of Michigan.

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