NKU students present PFAS findings at Ohio Rivers Symposium

Maria Truitt (left) and Ashlee Taylor
Maria Truitt (left) and Ashlee Taylor

Two Northern Kentucky University students recently presented results of their drinking water contaminants study to the 2022 Ohio Rivers Symposium in Columbus.

Maria Truitt and Ashlee Taylor took a close look at polyfouroalkyl (or PFAS) chemicals detected in public drinking water systems in testing performed by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The OEPA found that some 150 public water systems, 22 of them in Southwest Ohio, contained higher than recommended levels of PFAS “forever” chemicals. A concentration of contaminated sites were found in close proximity to the Little Miami River.

The Ohio Rivers Symposium, held March 25 in Columbus, brings together persons who share an interest in Ohio’s rivers, including watershed professionals, naturalists and community members.

“The symposium presented a great opportunity to make local connections and present research we pursued on PFAS contamination in southwest Ohio” said Maria, who is a Sierra Club member. “We received excellent feedback from professionals in this field who were truly interested and concerned about this issue, and are excited to see where we can further take this study.”

The study was conducted as part of NKU’s Environmental Toxicology class, taught by Dr. Chris Curran, who is also a member of the Miami Group Executive Committee. PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, are a known carcinogen and hormone disruptor. PFAS chemicals have gone unregulated for decades. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investigating potential action to curb their use.

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