Toxicology research and potential regulation involving per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, have been in the news lately. As they apply to drinking water, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) encourages “following the science wherever it may lead.”
But what science?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through its Science to Achieve Results Program (STAR), recently awarded almost $8 million to 11 different research institutions “to develop and evaluate innovative methods and approaches to inform human health risk assessment of environmental chemical mixtures.”
Among the recipients of STAR funding related to PFAS are researchers at three different universities.
- Maria Sepúlveda is the principal investigator of a study at Purdue University. “Using a combination of in silico, in vitro, and in vivo tools, this project will test the overarching hypothesis that binding of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to hemoglobin is a physiological signal for predicting the toxicity of PFAS mixtures.”
- Diana Aga is the principal investigator of a study at the University of Buffalo that will “integrate in vitro and in silico high throughput testing with in vivo tests using a zebrafish model to evaluate the neurotoxicity of PFAS mixtures and their mixtures with other organic contaminants. Researchers will use imaging-based high-throughput tests to assess mitochondrial disfunction and disturbances of neuronal networks.”
- Lili Tang is the lead investigator of a study at the University of Georgia Research Foundation that “aims to develop a quantitative adverse outcome pathway (qAOP) network with advanced mixtures risk assessment for assessing developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) of PFAS mixtures at multiple levels of biological organization.”
These studies and others will allow us to make educated decisions on potential regulations based on the scientific process.