Christopher Weis, U.S. National Institute for Environmental Studies and Focused Topic Meeting Co-chair

SETAC is looking forward to hosting the next Focused Topic Meeting on “Estimating Environmental Hazard and Risks from Exposure to Per- and Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS).” The meeting is scheduled to occur from 12–15 August 2019 at the Durham Convention Center in North Carolina, USA. The meeting is designed as a scientific exchange among multiple stakeholders aimed at fostering discussions about essential data gaps, future research and designing a roadmap for the development of common resources and tools for risk assessment.

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Knowledge of ongoing PFAS exposures continues to expand. Serum concentrations of these chemicals have been identified in human populations worldwide. In areas associated with specific PFAS sources, concentrations have been measured in environmental media and biological compartments including water, soil, air, fish, wildlife, produce and other agricultural products. Occurrence of PFAS in water supplies has raised concerns and resulted in widescale replacement of drinking water in some areas. Accumulation in wildlife, fish and agricultural products has resulted in restrictions due to health concerns associated with localized exposures. As the acronym, PFAS, slowly becomes a topic of household discussion, questions arise about the relevance and toxicological risks associated with this class of chemicals. The nearly ubiquitous presence of these fluorinated compounds in the environment and human tissues has raised widescale questions about their importance in our lifestyles as well as consequences for our environmental health.

To share information and better understand this environmental challenge, this SETAC meeting will provide an opportunity for toxicologists, risk assessors and environmental health practitioners from government, industry, NGOs and universities to explore, discuss and synthesize critical issues relevant to this unusually stable and diverse class of fluorinated compounds. Internationally known specialists in the fields of contaminant fate and transport, chemistry, exposure science, ecological toxicity, human toxicology, and risk assessment and characterization will present their findings and discuss the details and implications of their work.

The meeting program will begin with two-and-a-half days of plenary and poster sessions and will close with one-and-a-half days of smaller breakout sessions on the above topics. Breakout sessions are organized to present balanced representations from academia, government and business and will allow for detailed discussions among participants. The meeting will close with a three-hour session in which the deliberations of the breakout sessions will be summarized and discussed with the entire group. The program committee plans to publicize outcomes of the deliberations as a roadmap of activities needed to identify data gaps and approach challenges to risk assessment from exposure to PFAS.

Author’s contact information: christopher.weis@nih.gov

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