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CCEE’s Dr. Detlef Knappe featured in Guardian article on PFAS

Dr. Detlef Knappe

CCEE professor Dr. Detlef Knappe was cited in a recent Guardian story that gives an in-depth look at the deadly consequences of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds in the Cape Fear River basin in eastern North Carolina. The chemicals have been linked to several health issues such as cancer, according to the article. 

Knappe, a S. James Ellen Distinguished Professor whose research focuses on source water protection by identifying contaminants through targeted and non-targeted analyses and on the development of treatment approaches for the removal of unregulated contaminants, led the CCEE research team that discovered and traced GenX, a man-made chemical compound, and other PFAS in the water. In the Guardian article, he noted that PFAS don’t break down naturally, which means it will take decades to reduce the level of the chemicals in drinking water and remediate the land. 

“Peoples’ lives really got turned upside down because it’s not just drinking water, it’s likely food, fishing, swimming in the lakes, property values: all of these things won’t change for the foreseeable future,” Knappe said. “It’s a tragedy, a travesty, and, yes, it’s a result of four decades of Chemours basically operating without oversight in terms of those compounds.”

Read the full report here.