Phil Brown Wins NSF Grant to Study Perfluorinated Chemicals

Phil BrownPhil Brown, Director of the Research Translation Core and Co-Director of the Community Engagement Core, has received a $343,163 grant from the National Science Foundation to study  “Perfluorinated Chemicals: The Social Discovery of a Class of Emerging Contaminants.” His project investigates the social discovery, scientific controversies, and regulatory issues of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which are now being termed poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). There are many forms of PFASs, but this class of chemicals is mainly known for the specific compound perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA or C8), used in Teflon cookware coatings, and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), found in Scotchguard fabric protectors, firefighting foam, and in semiconductor devices. These are hazardous carbon-fluorine-based chemicals widely used in industrial production. Exposure to PFASs is linked to cancer, liver malfunction, hypothyroidism, obesity, decreased immune response to vaccines in children, hypertension, and other health problems. The purpose of the grant is to examine scientific, regulatory and advocacy action to restrict their use.

Phil’s research will take him and co-investigator Alissa Cordner, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Whitman College, to science laboratories, government agencies, corporate offices, and communities contaminated by perfluorinated compounds.  Similar to his previous work on flame retardants, Phil will highlight the increasingly important focus on entire chemical classes.  His previous work on flame retardants was published in Environmental Science & Technology, Health Affairs, Environmental Sociology, and New Solutions.


Congratulations Phil!