Researchers studying presence of potentially toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in the Indian River Lagoon

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — The University of Florida is halfway through a 3-year study of “forever chemicals” in the Indian River Lagoon.

Researchers provided an update Thursday evening on the project they hope will soon help area residents make more informed decisions about avoiding the contaminants.

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Researchers and “citizen scientists” have collected surface water and soil samples up and down the Indian River Lagoon.

That part of the study is about over. Now, it’s time for researchers to analyze the data.

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PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals found in a variety of consumer and industrial products. As a result, they can also be found in the environment.

UF researchers are using an $800,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant to study perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the Indian River Lagoon with good reason.

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“We learned that they can bioaccumulate, meaning that can be (taken up) and accumulated in our bodies, or fish, or plants,” said Dr. Katherine Deliz with UF’s department of environmental engineering sciences.

Citizen scientist Stel Bailey and her group, Fight 4 Zero, which was founded by cancer survivors like herself, has been helping UF researchers by collecting surface water and soil samples along the lagoon.

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“Knowledge is power,” Bailey said. “If we can give people the information, they can take steps to lessen their exposure to these chemicals.”

Researchers hope to better understand the distribution of PFAS in the environment, and if floods and storm events play a significant role in the transport of the chemicals.

See more in the video above.

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