On June 14th and 15th, 2017, Dr. Phil Brown, co-director of the Community Outreach and Translation Core (COTC) of CRECE and director of the Community Engagement Core (CEC) and the Research Translation Core (RTC) for PROTECT, took part in leading a conference titled “Highly Fluorinated Compounds – Social and Scientific Discovery.” The goal of the conference was to discuss social, scientific, political, economic, and environmental health issues raised by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) found in drinking water and soil around the world, specifically focusing on exposure from consumer products and discrete contamination stemming from industrial sources and firefighting foam in military bases, airports, and fire training sites.
The conference was held at Northeastern University, and was attended by 180 participants, including scientists, government agency professionals, legislators and public officials, community-based organization leaders, national and regional environmental advocates, retail and industry representatives, journalists, and lawyers. Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), was the event’s keynote speaker. In addition to Dr. Birnbaum, the conference hosted many influential environmental health leaders including Ken Cook, the president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and Rob Bilott, the lawyer in the DuPont case in the mid-Ohio Valley, who was central in the widespread knowledge of PFAS and the major health study by the C8 Science Panel. The event served as a great chance for making community connections, leading to many attendees expressing interest in collaborating with CRECE and PROTECT in the future on issues related to PFASs.