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Sam Hall motivated to study the impacts of PFAS contaminants on environmental health

Sam Hall is currently a PhD student at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina in the Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program (ITEHP). Hall is one of the three award winners of the 2019 CSETAC Pat McClellan-Green Travel Award. Each year student winners are given a generous stipend to offset travel costs associated with the Annual SETAC North America meeting. Below Sam describes her passion for toxicology and PFAS research.


One of the things that inspired me to pursue my PhD in toxicology and environmental health is getting to do science that helps better the health of both people and the environment. This passion has led me to focus my doctoral research on emerging contaminants called PFAS (or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). PFAS have been detected in drinking water and people and are found in many different products, such as nonstick cookware and textiles. PFAS have garnered a lot of attention, especially in North Carolina with the news that a PFAS called GenX has contaminated the Cape Fear River. As part of my studies on PFAS in Dr. Heather Stapleton’s lab, I’ve had the opportunity to help collect and sample surface water from the Haw River, drinking water, and even blood from communities around NC. It’s been rewarding to be able to study how the chemicals we put out into our rivers and environment later impact our drinking water and our own health. It’s also been great to work on multidisciplinary research projects to learn from and with the nearby NC communities about their PFAS exposure.

Recently, I also got the chance to present at the SETAC Annual Meeting in Toronto about work I’ve done on PFAS exposure through the placenta during pregnancy; this was a great opportunity to share my science, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the fantastic support from CSETAC. In the future I hope to use my research skills to solve problems at the intersection between human and

environmental health, like reducing

pollutant exposure.

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