Florida Researchers Shed Light on Forever Chemicals
Watch the 3rd Annual Brevard County PFAS Meeting
Join us live on Thursday, October 5, 2023, from 5:30 - 7:30 PM
The research project identifies areas prone to flooding and determines if vulnerable communities face a greater risk of PFAS exposure. The team has gathered over 500 data points in Brevard County. These include soils, sediments, fish, and water samples. In collaboration with citizen scientists, this data establishes a baseline and shows how storm flooding can exacerbate the transport of contaminants from polluted sites to the Indian River Lagoon and surrounding communities. This live-streamed meeting will present results from community sampling efforts, including measuring PFAS concentrations at key locations across the county. These locations include areas near suspected PFAS sites and community parks where people may come into contact with contaminated soil and water.
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One of the most contaminated military bases nationwide is located in Brevard County, Florida
Fight for Zero was founded by cancer survivors to bring awareness to elevated disease rates and PFAS contamination in Florida and is partnered with the University of Florida in this PFAS Exposure on Vulnerable Coastal Communities Prone to Extreme Weather research project. Fight for Zero provides community outreach, trains citizen scientists, collects weekly samples across the county, and attends monthly meetings. The organization’s leaders expressed worry about PFAS contamination after discovering that Brevard County had some of the highest levels of PFAS in the country, according to a Department of Defense report from 2018.
Helping communities understand their exposures and take action to protect their health
What are PFAS Chemicals? PFAS chemicals are known as “forever chemicals,” a family of potentially thousands of synthetic chemicals that are extremely persistent in the environment and in our bodies. PFAS includes chemicals known as PFOS, PFOA, and GenX.
Why are we concerned? A growing body of science has found that there are potential adverse health impacts associated with PFAS exposure, including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression, and cancer. These chemicals can easily migrate into the air, dust, food, soil, and water.
How do I know if my drinking water has PFAS? If you are concerned about PFOA, PFOS, GenX chemicals, or PFBS in your drinking water, you can buy a Cyclopure PFAS kit to test.
What filters removed PFAS? Both granular activated carbon (GAC) and reverse osmosis (RO) filters can reduce PFAS substances. Both systems provide less water flow than a standard water faucet.
Who is at the most risk for PFAS? Children and pregnant and lactating women have higher exposure to PFAS because they tend to drink more water per pound of body weight than the average person, and as a result, they may have higher exposure.
What does PFAS do to your body? Altered immune and thyroid function, liver disease, lipid and insulin dysregulation, kidney disease, adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes, and cancer.
How do I know if I have PFAS in my body? A blood test for PFAS can tell your levels when the blood is drawn. Most people have PFAS in their bodies.
How do you flush PFAS from your body? There isn't a way to remove PFAS from the body, but you can reduce your level of exposure by not using products, drinking water, or eating fish that contain it.
Military bases, aerospace, firefighter training facilities, and airports are among the largest contributors to PFAS pollution in Florida
PFAS are a family of more than 10,000 man-made chemicals that have been used for almost 70 years in many manufacturing and industrial applications, including extensively in the aviation industry.
Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) has been used for firefighting at airports and military bases, and fluoropolymers (a specific class of PFAS) play a significant role in the aerospace industry. These chemicals, over time, leak into soil, water, and air.
Areas prone to flooding face a greater risk of PFAS exposure
Coastal communities deal with intense storm surges, sea-level rise, and inland flooding. During hurricanes and extreme weather events, sediment can be carried and deposited downstream in residential neighborhoods and parks. Flooding carries hazardous pollutants and can transport harmful chemicals like PFAS further inland and contaminate the soil.
These events can increase your risk of exposure to contaminants that harm health, such as heavy metals, pesticides, and PFAS, by spreading with floodwaters.
Flooding also intensifies infrastructure issues, causing "boil" notices, contamination of drinking water sources, and failure of sewage systems, forcing wastewater treatment facilities to discharge material into surrounding water bodies. The risk of exposure is great when industrial or agricultural land is next to residential land. It is vital to assess the risk to communities at the fenceline of polluting facilities and for state agencies to protect them from harm.
The Fight For Zero team will be taking samples from the Indian River Lagoon and Banana River before and immediately after a flooding event so that scientists can see what PFAS is in the environment and at what concentration levels in water and soil.
In Collaboration with Citizen Scientists
At the beginning of 2018, members of Fight for Zero gathered with cancer patients, survivors, and their families in Brevard County. This meeting was held after the Department of Defense released a report revealing that the water in NASA, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and Patrick Space Force Base contained cancer-causing chemicals referred to as "PFAS." These "forever chemicals" were detected in soils, sediments, fish, and water samples.
In collaboration with the University of Florida and organizations like ORCA, citizen scientists with Fight for Zero have gathered over 500 data points in Brevard County. This data establishes a baseline and shows how storm flooding can exacerbate the transport of contaminants from polluted sites to the Indian River Lagoon and surrounding communities. The community sampling efforts include measuring PFAS concentrations at key locations across the county where people may come into contact with contaminated soil and water.
Although the project primarily centers on Brevard County, researchers also collected data on PFAS in Jacksonville and other communities across Florida for additional studies.
Fight For Zero is a prominent advocate in Florida for addressing PFAS contamination. Our organization collaborates with national and regional allies to protect lives through education and science. We strive to ensure that environmental concerns and the well-being of coastal communities in Florida are not neglected.
PFAS Test Kit
Looking for an affordable and easy way to test for PFAS in water? Cyclopure made testing simple. Run water through the collection cup. Wear included gloves. Avoid touching the inside of the cup, and do not detach or disturb the blue extraction filter attached to the bottom. Results will be ready within 10 days of receipt of your sample.
PFAS Exposure on Vulnerable Coastal Communities Prone to Extreme Weather Floods
Research Documents and Sources to Share
Assessment of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic coast of Brevard County, FL, reveals distinct spatial clusters: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0045653522009717
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in plasma of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025326X19300992
Perfluorinated alkyl acids and fecundity assessment in striped mullt at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S004896971733200X?via%3Dihub
Variation in perfluoroalkyl acids in the American alligator at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0045653516312899?via%3Dihub
Ticks as novel sentinels to monitor environmental levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2021/EM/D1EM00209K
A rapid and simple method to quantify per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in plasma and serum using 96-well plates: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2215016120303319?via%3Dihub
Metabolic profiling in human SHSY5Y neuronal cells exposed to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0161813X21000541?via%3Dihub
Using Regulatory Classifications to Assess the Impact of Different Land Use Types of PEr- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Concentrations in Stormwater Pond Sediments: https://ascelibrary.org/doi/10.1061/%28ASCE%29EE.1943-7870.0001906
The last straw: Characterization of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in commercially available plant-based drinking straws: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0045653521007074?via%3Dihub
Evaluation of extraction workflows for quantitative analysis of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances: A case study using soil adjacent to a landfill: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0048969720374751?via%3Dihub
Brevard County PFAS Research Project In the News
UF News: Deliz Receives EPA Grant to Build Community Resilience Against PFAS Exposure Due to Flooding
Spectrum News: Brevard County the Focus of a UF Study on Contaminants, Flooding
Hometown News: Fight for Zero announces a new study with UF, resident input
NEWS13: University of Florida reveals 1st findings of ‘forever chemical’ study in Brevard County
The Gainsville Sun: UF Scientist to lead PFAS Study
Are you ready to help make a difference for future generations by collecting scientific data through water, soil, and air sampling? We are building teams of citizen scientists in each city of Brevard County to collect samples and share those results with your communities.
Brevard County residents can become a part of this project and put on an exclusive email by signing up as citizen scientists. You will gain access to our grassroots virtual meetings and training videos to learn how to take the samples. The testing kits and materials are provided along with an online workshop to discuss details and teach communities how to take samples. If you would like to help us collect water around your community, submit your name, city, phone, and email.
Become a Citizen Scientist
Frequently Asked Questions
Will you test our soil or water? Our testing locations are carefully chosen using data, science, and with the scope of this study in mind. We do not have the funding to assist in additional environmental testing at this time. Other testing projects done by Fight For Zero are done to collect comprehensive data. If you are searching for information on testing, please visit https://www.fight4zero.org/testingwater
How do I become a Fight For Zero citizen scientist? Use our sign-up form to add your name to the list. For this project, our teams commit to three months to collect surface water samples from locations across Brevard. This project does change with time as we narrow down areas and begin our storm season sampling. Also, it's important to note that we have over 100 volunteers signed up with a waitlist, but scientists are always reaching out to our team searching for volunteers on other projects, so please sign up!
What should I expect when becoming a Fight For Zero citizen scientist? As a team member, you will sign a three-month commitment and receive all needed equipment, such as sampling bottles, gloves, grabbers, coolers, meters, and educational materials. You will also get limited Fight For Zero swag, be put into a citizen scientist chat, and automatically become a Fight For Zero grassroots member with the opportunity to become a leader.
Do you have other volunteer opportunities? We have numerous other volunteer opportunities from blog writing, tech work, social media moderation, and grant writing. Additionally, our academic partners regularly do projects and reach out for volunteers.
How much money does Fight For Zero receive for this project? This project is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through a grant. Fight For Zero is a sub-recipient working as community partners assisting in engagement and citizen science. Fight For Zero receives $5,000 in total a year to cover our costs by reimbursement. Our costs are paid out of pocket, and we get reimbursed after submitting receipts and hours worked. 100% of our hours worked are donated to the nonprofit by the Executive Director and Vice President to continue covering expenses and additional testing kits for the community. You can view our financials at https://www.fight4zero.org/financials
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