Indiana University will use part of a nearly $6 million federal grant to monitor a chemical that polluted groundwater at military bases, including Grissom Air Reserve Base near Kokomo. The Environmental Protection Agency is making research on PFAS a priority.
These man-made chemicals have been found in everything from firefighting foams on military bases, to carpets, to fast food wrappers. IU environmental chemist Marta Venier co-leads a decades-old program that studies legacy chemicals like PFAS in the Great Lakes basin.
“Once these chemicals are in the particles and in the rain, they can get deposited into the lakes into the water and then eventually absorbed by the living species that are in the water. And then we eventually eat them,” she says.
Exposure to PFAS has been linked to health problems with the immune system, infant birth weights, and — in some cases — cancer.
Venier's program, the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network, has been looking at a variety of persistent chemicals in the environment for a long time.
"This is one of the most successful in the world. It's taken as an example for how to actually successfully run a monitoring program," she says.
This will be the first time the program will monitor PFAS.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.