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Environmental regulators announced new grants to help researchers investigate how harmful PFAS affect plants and animals in agricultural environments.

 

By Liza Gross

October 30, 2023

 

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Thursday $8 million in new research funding to understand how the toxic compounds known as “forever chemicals” are affecting plants and animals in agricultural, rural and tribal communities.

The agency announced the new funds as part of an effort to develop ways to identify and mitigate exposure pathways to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of more than 12,000 chemicals known as PFAS. These nearly indestructible chemicals, which do not exist in nature, accumulate in the environment and in living things, including people. They contaminate air, soil and waterways and have been detected in the blood of nearly every person tested in the United States.

The agency is offering researchers five $1.6 million grants over four years. The grants aim to support research that advances the EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment as part of its Science to Achieve Results program. 

“It is just a drop in the bucket for what is needed,” said Linda Lee, a professor of environmental chemistry at Purdue University. But it’s a good signal to the research community about the need for a better understanding of PFAS contamination to design effective management and mitigation strategies, she added.

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