PFAS Research, Education, and Action for Community Health

Courtney Carignan, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and College of Veterinary Medicine
Great Lakes PFAS Action Network

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) were first discovered in 2010 at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, a town in Michigan on the coast of Lake Huron. Since then, many other PFAS-impacted sites have been identified in Michigan and across the globe. Detection of substantial contamination in drinking water can be an enormous source of stress for communities, which can be addressed by helping to improve understanding and promote health protective action. Courtney Carignan’s engagement with communities aims to provide service by sharing information, useful connections, and resources. Her research helps identify and address major gaps in knowledge or resources that are of high concern to the community. PFAS contamination was discovered in Rockford and Belmont (Kent County) in 2017 in connection with poor disposal practices by a local tannery. Spurred by the need for educational support voiced by the affected community and others, Carignan helped develop fact sheets on PFAS blood testing and medical screening as part of PFAS REACH, an NIH-funded project. Her service and research aim to support autonomy and empowerment of community partners through shared decision-making.