Mitochondrial Insight into toxicity of PFAS through analysis of aquatic wildlife: The SAFEWaterNC Study
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are persistent and toxic water-soluble chemical pollutants of ground and surface water. To better understand the degree of exposure and impacts of PFAS toxicity resulting from the various PFAS present in surface water, the Belcher lab is using wild fish and American Alligator as models to evaluate levels of PFAS exposure and to determine the detrimental impacts of exposures on a wide variety of endpoints related to PFAS toxicity. Ongoing analysis of Striped bass from the Cape Fear River has revealed very high levels of exposure, the impacts of individual and combined PFAS exposure on the loss of reproductive fitness in these fish is being evaluated. American alligators sampled from the Cape Fear River also have elevated serum PFAS levels that are associated with adverse impacts on the liver and immune function. Continuing studies are evaluating PFAS tissue distribution in the muscle tissue of recreationally harvested species from the Cape Fear River, and evaluating fish consumption as a route of PFAS exposure for humans.