Riverkeepers join national PFAS project

Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell sets up for PFAS sampling with a test kit supplied by Cyclopure.

Sound Rivers is chipping in to a nationwide monitoring project to investigate exactly how prevalent PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are in American waterways.

Known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS have been linked to harmful effects to public health and the environment.

Waterkeeper Alliance and Cyclopure are partnering to gain more understanding of these chemicals that do not break down and accumulate in people, wildlife, aquatic life and the environment. PFAS have been found in surface water, air, soil, food, many commercial materials and products, and in groundwater, which provides nearly 50% of U.S. drinking water and is a major source for crop irrigation and agricultural production.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop and water-quality intern Maia Schweikert take PFAS samples on the Neuse River near Clayton.

Over the past two weeks, Sound Rivers’ Riverkeepers have incorporated PFAS sampling: Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop and water-quality intern Maia Schweikert took samples on the Neuse River near Clayton and Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell is sampling the Tar River near Greenville, using the Cyclopure test kits.

“We have more Cyclopure sample kits through a Waterkeepers Carolina project to conduct additional sampling in our watersheds during 2022 to assess potential PFAS sources and levels of PFAS in surface waters near drinking water intakes,” Jill said. “The current level of PFAS testing in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico basins is extremely limited, so this data will be useful in starting to get a sense of if PFAS contamination is a problem here.”

Sound Rivers’ samples will be added to a national data set and a comprehensive report to be released ahead of the Clean Water Act’s 50th anniversary this fall, for use by Congress, EPA, water utilities, researchers and communities.

Read more about the Waterkeeper Alliance and Cyclopure project HERE.