Water-quality specialist, volunteer coordinator on the hunt for PFAS

Environmental, Sound Rivers

Posted on April 6th, 2023

Water-quality Specialist Taylor Register takes a water sample at Town Creek in Tarboro.

Sound Rivers’ Water Quality Specialist Taylor Register and Volunteer Coordinator Emily Fritz were on the move again this week, as they sampled for PFAS in a local waterway.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are manmade “forever chemicals” prevalent in many different industrial manufacturing processes and wastewater treatment applications.

“It’s nearly impossible for PFAS to degrade naturally in the environment, so they’re showing up in waterways everywhere as a result of run-off from these types of facilities,” Taylor said.

These chemicals have been linked to several diseases and experts estimate more than 200 million Americans are exposed to PFAS through drinking water. There are also no enforceable regulatory standards in place to protect the public and waterways from this emerging health hazard.

This week, Taylor and Emily paid a visit to Town Creek in Tarboro.

Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell (right) talks PFAS sampling with Water-quality Specialist Taylor Register.

“We chose this area because it’s near a sludge field, which is an area where sewage ‘sludge’ from wastewater treatment plants is spread out to act as fertilizer. When it rains, this ‘sludge’ runs off into our waterways and is a known PFAS contamination source,” Taylor said. “We don’t have the results back just yet, but it’ll be interesting to see if this local sludge is influencing the PFAS concentration of this particular waterway.”

This post will be updated with results.



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