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Tue, Mar 21



PFAS: Breaking Down the Future of Forever Chemicals in Our Water

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PFAS: Breaking Down the Future of Forever Chemicals in Our Water
PFAS: Breaking Down the Future of Forever Chemicals in Our Water

Time & Location

Mar 21, 2023, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT


About the event

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are designed to last. They are the substances that earn the labels fire-retardant, stain-resistant, non-stick, and water-resistant. These are often desired qualities in products that we use, however widespread use has led to PFAS contamination of the environment in which we live. Research has shown that these substances may cause serious health problems even at low levels of exposure as they affect how hormones operate in the body. 

This panel discussion will delve into: 

  • How PFAS get into our water, including risks from shale gas development 
  • Testing for PFAS 
  • Remediating contamination on a community wide scale 
  • Exploring policy options specifically in terms of state level responses to reduce exposure to PFAS 
  • How best to protect public health and our most vulnerable communities.


PFAS Webinar Questions & Answers

Speaker Bios: 


Jose Aguayo is the Built Environment Senior Manager at the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) where he engages large institutions in purchasing healthier products for use in the built environment through research, advocacy, and education. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a master’s degree in Global Health, both from George Mason University. Jose has previously worked at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), where he provided technical assistance to environmental justice grassroots groups; as a contractor for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, providing research and data analysis work to the Safety and Sustainability Division; and as a research analyst at the Environmental Working Group, researching toxic ingredients in food and personal care products. 


Dusty Horwitt has spent nearly 20 years researching and working to protect communities from the health and environmental impacts of oil and gas drilling and fracking as well as other environmental risks. An attorney and former reporter, he has written a chapter on fracking chemical disclosure for a textbook published by Elsevier. He has also been quoted in, and had his work featured in, media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Marketplace on NPR. He has played significant roles in efforts to protect New York state, the George Washington National Forest, and the Delaware River Basin from unsafe shale gas drilling and fracking. He is the author of PSR’s report Fracking with Forever Chemicals about the use of PFAS in fracking and lead author of PSR’s reports Fracking with Forever Chemicals in Colorado, Fracking with Forever Chemicals in Ohio, and Fracking with “Forever Chemicals” in Texas about the use of PFAS in oil and gas extraction in those states. He is continuing to work with PSR on issues related to oil and gas chemical exposure. In 2022, he was invited to testify before the Colorado House of Representatives and State Senate regarding legislation, later signed into law, that banned the use of PFAS in oil and gas wells in Colorado and improved oil and gas chemical disclosure in the state. Previously, he worked as a deputy press secretary on Capitol Hill and as a reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar. 


Dr. Detlef Knappe is the S. James Ellen Distinguished Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at NC State University. He joined the NCSU faculty in 1996 after receiving a PhD degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Detlef’s research interest broadly encompasses drinking water quality and treatment, and he has conducted research on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) since 2010. Detlef is a member of the NC Secretaries’ Science Advisory Board, and he is Deputy Director of NCSU’s Superfund Center for Environmental and Health Effects of PFAS. He serves as Associate Editor of the journal AWWA Water Science.


Dr. Carla Ng is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, with secondary appointments in Environmental and Occupational Health and in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. She received her PhD in Chemical & Biological Engineering from Northwestern University in 2008. Her research focuses on the development of models and tools to evaluate the fate and effects of legacy and emerging chemicals in organisms and ecosystems, with a particular focus on PFAS.


Dr. Jason C. White is the Director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES), the oldest Agricultural Experiment Station in the United States and has a research program on food safety and security, with a focus on sustainable nano-enabled agriculture. Dr. White is involved with research looking to develop sustainable nano materials to bind to PFAS and increase plant uptake. Dr. White was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering in 2021 and is a member of the European Science Foundation College of Experts.  He is a Commissioned Official of the US FDA and a Clarivate Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher from 2020-2022. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Cornell University in 1997 and has secondary appointments in the Yale University School of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture.       

Moderator Bio:


Makenzie White is the Public Health Manager at the Environmental Health Project. Makenzie received a Bachelors in social work from Franciscan University in Steubenville and a Masters in public health and Masters of social work from the University of Pittsburgh. Previously, she has worked in nonprofit management providing services to adults and children with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and mental health disorders. She is currently a licensed and practicing social worker in Pittsburgh and serves as the Strategic Projects Manager for Cancer Free Economy. Outside of work, Makenzie serves as the President of the Pittsburgh Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a member of Brentwood Borough’s planning commission, and a member on the Brentwood Democratic Committee. She is a co-author on EHP’s white paper, Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas Boom: How Policy Decisions Failed to Protect Public Health and What We Can Do to Correct It, and provides regular expert testimony on the public health impacts of shale gas development. 

CLICK HERE to watch the recording.

Reference Documents for Webinar Attendees

EHP Resources




Other Resources





  • Fenton, S. E., Ducatman, A. M., Boobis, A. R., DeWitt, J. C., Lau, C., Ng, C. A., Smith, J. A., & Roberts, S. J. (2021). Per‐ and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Toxicity and Human Health Review: Current State of Knowledge and Strategies for Informing Future Research. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 40(3), 606–630. 
  • Herkert, N.J.,  Merrill, J., Peters, C., Bollinger, D., Zhang, S., Hoffman, K., Ferguson, P.L., Knappe, D.R.U., Stapleton, H.M. (2020). Assessing the Effectiveness of Point-of-Use Residential Drinking Water Filters for Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs). Environmental Science and Technology Letters, 7:178-184. 
  • Kotlarz, N., McCord, J., Collier, D. A., Lea, C. S., Strynar, M. J., Lindstrom, A. B., Wilkie, A. A., Islam, J. Y., Matney, K., Tarte, P. E., Polera, M. E., Burdette, K., DeWitt, J. C., May, K., Smart, R. C., Knappe, D. R., & Hoppin, J. A. (2020). Measurement of Novel, Drinking Water-Associated PFAS in Blood from Adults and Children in Wilmington, North Carolina. Environmental Health Perspectives, 128(7), 077005.
  • PubMed PFAS search. National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine (biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books) Online database.        

 Developed resources reported in this webinar are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number: UG4LM013724. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. 

The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing and the Environmental Health Project are jointly providing nursing continuing professional development (NCPD) contact hours for the educational activity entitled: PFAS: Breaking Down the Future of Forever Chemicals in Our Water. Nurses completing the entire activity and the evaluation tool will be awarded a maximum of 1.5 contact hours of nursing continuing professional development (NCPD).

The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

If you attended the live presentation of the webinar on March 21 and are seeking 1.5 contact hours for nurses or continuing education credits for professional engineers, please complete this Qualtrics Survey. If you have questions about receiving these contact hours or education credits, please contact Makenzie White at

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