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Team 5D screening soil for research on PFAS uptake and distrubtion in crop plants (photo by Yue Zhi)
 
 
 
NC PFAST Network News                  August 2019
FROM THE DIRECTOR
 
Dear PFAS Testing Network Colleagues,
 

It has been an active and productive summer for the Network with researchers working and traveling near and far. The beginning of a new academic year promises to keep everyone busy not only with research activities but also participation in a variety of exciting events happening in the next few months, some of which you will find in other sections of this newsletter as well as on the PFAST Network website. We will also be sharing further, specific details about events as they are finalized.

The PFAST Network Science Meeting earlier this month was highly informative and successful. A HUGE thank you to all the attendees for your hard work and cooperation. Each individual and team associated with the Network is doing impressive and diligent PFAS research that has generated and will continue generating data and insights that will be useful to the North Carolina community. We look forward to continue sharing data with the public through publications, presentations, reports, online data portal and other forums.

On the topic of sharing Network news, check out a wonderfully done recent write-up and video by UNC Research office's team which followed and interviewed several Network researchers across field sites in North Carolina doing PFAS research. 


As a reminder, everyone should be working from the assumption that a FINAL REPORT is due by December 1, 2019. As a result, we will need all available results by November 1, 2019. The next Quarterly Report to the Legislature is due Oct 1 so please be aware you will need to send your September monthly progress report a little earlier than usual. We will continue to communicate updates with the Network in coming weeks and encourage you to reach out to us with questions or concerns.

Also, please remember to keep sharing upcoming events and news with us so we can provide this information to everyone else. Thanks again for your dedication.


Most sincerely,
PFAS Testing Network Project Management Team
UNC-Chapel Hill


NOTE: We have added as many PFAST Network researchers (PIs, post-docs, other scientists and students) to this listserv as we could. Feel free to forward this to anyone we missed and let us know if someone should be added.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Network Bulletin
 
August Monthly Progress Report - due Aug 26th
September Monthly Progress Report - due Aug 20th
Fall PFAS Symposium - due Oct 23-24th
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Meet a Network Scientist

 
 
 
 

JACKIE BANGMA, UNC-CH (Team 5E)
Can you provide background information about yourself?
I received a college degree in chemistry from the University of Georgia in 2010. After college I did not go straight to grad school, but instead, I spent 6 months working in Tanzania and investigating education effects on wildlife poaching rates around Ruaha National Park. Upon returning home from Tanzania, I began working as a volunteer in Dr. Lou Guillette’s lab at the Medical University of South Carolina, and I eventually went on to receive my PhD under Dr. Guillette studying PFAS and wildlife reproductive health with a focus on crocodilians.  All in all, my professional development prior to my current position has been exciting and unique.

How did you get involved in the PFAST Network? What are you doing?

Upon completion of my PhD I began working at University of Chapel Hill with Dr. Rebecca Fry on environmental exposures and placental health. My background in PFAS and the rising concerns for PFAS around the Cape Fear River led Rebecca and I to begin focusing on PFAS effects on placental function as a part of the PFAST network.


Which people in your field have been most influential to you and your career?
So many people have influenced my career for the better. I would say of those, my twin sister and Dr. Guillette have played some of the biggest roles in the direction of my career path. My sister attended MUSC for medical school and, during her time there, Dr. Guillette gave a seminar on environmental health to her class. Interested in his research, my sister asked for his card and sent me his contact information. Soon after, I reached out to Dr. Guillette asking to volunteer in his lab, and he said YES!

What major future research questions do you hope to address (PFAS related or otherwise)?
One big unknown for PFAS is the long-term health impacts of exposure during development. In the long run, I would like to understand the potential health impacts of PFAS using the placenta as a biomarker of both PFAS exposure and PFAS induced functional changes that are linked to later in life outcomes.

 
 


PFAS Article Highlight

Concentrations of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in human embryonic and fetal organs from first, second, and third trimester pregnancies
Linn Salto Mamsen, Richelle D. Björvang, Daniel Mucs, Maire-Therese Vinnars, Nikos Papadogiannakis, Christian H. Lindh, Claus Yding Andersen, Pauliina Damdimopoulou
Environmental International, (2019) 124, 482-92

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.01.010


Risk assessment relies on evaluation of chemical exposure levels and adverse health effects in the affected population.  Biomonitoring has shown that PFAS are detected in the serum of essentially all people including pregnant women, however fetal exposures are not determined. Because there are limited and inconsistent data on the bioaccumulation and potential toxic effects of PFAS during pregnancy and on human fetal development, there remains a critical need for more research to inform risk assessment.  The authors of the present study had previously measured tissue concentrations of PFAS in first trimester (T1) human embryos and fetuses (gestational weeks 7-12) and found a significant positive correlation between some PFAS and gestational age.  In this study Mamsen et al. expanded their analysis by including human fetal tissues from second and third trimester, allowing for an evaluation of human fetal PFAS exposure across the entire gestational period. First trimester embryonic and fetal tissues were obtained in 2014-15 from healthy women (Denmark) above the age of 18 years, who chose to terminate pregnancy for reasons other than fetal abnormality.  Maternal blood samples were also obtained on the day of fetal evacuation, and embryonic and fetal sex were determined by observation and PCR.  Second and third trimester (T2, T3) fetal samples were obtained in 2015-16 from pregnancies that resulted in intrauterine fetal death (Sweden).  Most common causes of death were placental insufficiency, intrauterine growth restriction and infection.  In addition, bio-banked maternal serum obtained during routine first trimester prenatal visits during gestational weeks 9-12 were retrieved and included in the analysis with the corresponding second and third trimester samples.
 
Samples were analyzed by LC-MS/MS to determine concentrations of 6 PFAS (PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, PFDA, PFUnA, and PFHxS) in 78 embryos and fetuses, 71 placentas, and 63 maternal serum samples.  A total of 296 tissue samples were analyzed representing liver, lung, heart, CNS (spinal cord in T1; brain in T2 and T3), and adipose tissue (when available). The LOQs ranged from 0.03 to 0.60 ng/mL for serum samples and from 0.09 to 0.60 ng/g for tissue samples.  Samples below the LOQ were not included in further statistical analyses. Typical exposure patterns are illustrated in the heat map shown below for quantitation frequencies of PFAS above the LOQ.  Quantitation frequencies were highest in maternal serum followed by placenta then fetal tissues and frequencies increased by trimester in fetal organs.  The most commonly detected compound was PFOS followed by PFOA and PFNA.  In fetal tissues, PFAS were most often detected in liver and lung followed by adipose, heart, and CNS.  In maternal serum, concentrations of PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, PFDA, and PFUnA were significantly, positively correlated with each other except for PFOA with PFUnA (and only PFOS correlated with PFHxS).  In placenta and fetal tissues, PFOS was observed at the highest concentrations and in general, embryonic/fetal tissue levels (ng/g) were lower than that observed in maternal serum (ng/mL), but similar to concentrations in the placenta and positively correlated with maternal serum levels.
 
Total PFAS burden, calculated as the sum of PFAS detected above LOQ (excluding PFHxS which was not measured in T1 samples), was highest in lung tissues from the 1st trimester and highest in liver tissues from the 2nd and 3rd trimesters (see figure 3 below).  Of all the samples evaluated, CNS samples had the lowest PFAS burden.  Since maternal serum PFAS concentrations varied between trimesters and could affect fetal tissue concentrations and evaluation of fetal transfer, fetal tissue concentrations (ng/g) were normalized to maternal serum concentrations (ng/mL).  The placenta-to-maternal serum ratios for PFOS, PFOA, and PFNA increased across gestation suggesting bioaccumulation in the placenta, and the ratios were higher for pregnancies with male fetuses.  Taken together, the results from both cohorts demonstrate that PFAS pass the placenta and accumulate in embryonic and fetal tissues of vital organs and that sex is a likely factor in fetal response to PFAS exposures via placental transfer.  Additionally, this study suggests that maternal serum PFAS concentrations may be used to estimate fetal exposures.

 

Happenings

WATER RESEARCH FOUNDATION FUNDING CALL (Due Sep 12th): Occurrence of PFAS Compounds in U.S. Wastewater Treatment Plants
The Water Research Foundation seeks to evaluate PFAS occurrence in American wastewater treatment plants and determine the fate of PFAS compounds during wastewater treatment processes. Proposals will be accepted from domestic or international entities, including educational institutions, research organizations, governmental agencies, and consultants or other for-profit entities and applicants may request up to $250,000 in funds for this project. Full details about the application can be found here.

UPCOMING WORKSHOP (Sep 26th-27th): Identifying Opportunities to Understand, Control, and Prevent Exposure to PFAS
This National Academy of Sciences’ Environmental Health Matters Initiative workshop will explore human exposure to PFAS with a focus on exposure to the general population, options for controlling PFAS exposures and methods for treating and preventing PFAS exposures. More information, including the registration link, can be found here.

UPCOMING WEBINAR (12pm on Oct 17th): Managing AFFF Impacts to Subsurface Environments and Assessment of Commercially Available Fluorine-Free Foams
The historical use of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) containing PFAS for firefighting and training activities has led to concern over the potential for contamination of groundwater at hundreds of sites. This presentation will present viable approaches for treating recalcitrant PFAS and recent research activity. Technologies of particular focus include sorption, ion exchange, oxidation, sonolysis, and plasma treatment. More information, including the registration link, can be found here.

UPCOMING WORKSHOP (Dec 5th): PFAS in Groundwater Workshop: The Professional’s Challenge
This National Groundwater Association workshop in Nevada will address and sharpen the thought processes of practitioners regarding how to apply scientific and legal considerations to sites contaminated PFAS. This one-day workshop will include an opening presentation followed by group work sessions and discussions designed to improve analytical and problem-solving skills. Those who complete the workshop will receive the PFAS Site Assessment and Remediation Certificate. More information can be found here.

UPCOMING LOCAL MEETING (Dec 5th): PFAS and Other Emerging Contaminants Update Workshop
This Ground Water Professionals of NC meeting will focus on topics related to emerging contaminants and provide an update on PFAS and Gen-X in NC. More information can be found here.

 

News Roll

 
 
 
 
Consumer Reports: Regulators Concerned Bottled Water, Not Just Tap, May Contain PFAS Contaminants (Aug 1)
Tap water contaminated with PFAS has become a major concern for communities across America and many are turning to bottled water as an alternative source. But after tests last month showed bottled spring water sold in several New England states had also been tainted by PFAS, questions are being raised about the safety of bottled water for those dealing with problems at their tap. Major bottlers say they now test for PFAS, but without legally mandated testing for public and commercially available water regulators are not always sure which option is safer. Read more here.

Intercept: Industry Cites 3M Research on Cancer Patients Exposed to PFOA to Claim the Chemical Isn’t So Bad (Aug 12)
Defenders of PFAS are using an industry-funded study of cancer patients as evidence that a specific compound and known cause of disease, PFOA, isn’t as dangerous as it seems. The study was funded by 3M (the company that originally developed PFOA) and published in Toxicological Sciences using data from 49 terminal cancer patients exposed to high levels of PFOA. As pressure mounts for states and the federal government to set regulate PFAS, industry groups facing liability over water contamination have turned to this study as evidence that the scientific approaches previously used to calculate safe exposures levels are too restrictive. Read more here.

WUNC: Despite A Massive Cleanup Effort, People Near Some Military Bases Still Can't Drink Their Tap Water (Aug 13)
The military is spending millions of dollars to clean up PFAS water contamination resulting from toxic firefighting foam it used for training exercises on bases throughout the country. But people living with the contamination say the money has not gone far enough as they face high costs for alternative drinking water infrastructure and PFAS testing which are not accounted for in current military spending on PFAS associated clean up. Read more here.

Chemical & Engineering News: Short-chain and long-chain PFAS show similar toxicity, US National Toxicology Program says (Jul 9)
The US National Toxicology Program says short-chain perfluoroalkyl sulfonates and perfluoroalkyl carboxylates adversely affect rat livers and thyroid hormones just like the long-chain compounds. But causing those effects requires higher doses of the short-chain versions of these chemicals because the short-chain compounds generally have shorter half-lives in rodents than the longer-chain ones do. These findings could have implications for establishing cleanup standards for drinking water and soil contaminated with these and other PFAS. Long-term toxicity and carcinogenicity bioassays and toxicokinetic studies with these compounds are ongoing. Read more here.
Publications and Other Research
 
 
Environment International (Aug 2019): Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and blood lipid levels in pre-diabetic adults—longitudinal analysis of the diabetes prevention program outcomes study
Pi-I D. Lin, Andres Cardenas, Russ Hauser, Diane R. Gold, Ken P. Kleinman, Marie-France Hivert, Abby F. Fleisch, Antonia M. Calafat, Thomas F. Webster, Edward S. Horton, and Emily Oken

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.05.027

Environmental International (Oct 2019): Legacy and alternative per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the U.S. general population: Paired serum-urine data from the 2013–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
Antonia M. Calafat, Kayoko Kato, Kendra Hubbard, Tao Jia, Julianne Cook Botelho, and Lee-Yang Wong

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.105048
 
Chemosphere (Dec 2019): Legacy and emerging perfluorinated and polyfluorinated compounds: An update
Leo W. Y. Yeung, Nobuyoshi Yamashita, Jerzy Falandysz

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.124506

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 






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