More research is needed to study PFAS impacts to ag

The ag advisor at the Environmental Protection Agency says federal and state agencies coming together to support farmers impacted by PFAS,  per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or forever chemical contamination.

Rod Snyder tells Brownfield research is ongoing to better understand plant and animal uptake of the chemicals that have been widely used in industrial applications.

“It’s critically important because if we want to help get impacted farmers back in business or their ability to continue producing, we really do need to understand how we can remediate and help support these farmers over the long term,” he explains.

Purdue University professor Linda Lee has been studying the impacts of the contaminants since 2016.

“We cannot find a pristine site that’s truly pristine as a reference,” she says.  “We don’t really know honestly what’s okay for me to eat, my body can handle a certain amount of things, what’s okay? When it’s in a plant, how much of it does your body really get? We don’t know the answers to these things.”

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

Lee tells Brownfield learning mitigation strategies will have the most significant, immediate effect in reducing the spread of contaminants. She is a professor in the Purdue University Department of Agronomy; Program Head for the Ecological Sciences & Engineering Interdisciplinary Graduate Program; and a Faculty Affiliate in the Division of Environmental Ecological Engineering.

Snyder says the EPA is in the final stages of releasing federal drinking water standards for PFAS that would set a threshold for acceptable levels and those could be released by the end of the year.

Both were featured speakers during this week’s Center for PFAS Research’s Annual Symposium in East Lansing, Michigan.

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