MacDonald Gibson wins grant to support research on GenX, other environmental contaminants in NC

April 16, 2018

On April 9, the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory announced $430,000 in grants for three research projects to address emerging contaminants in North Carolina, including GenX, a potentially toxic industrial compound that has been detected in the Cape Fear River.

Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson, PhD, associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and co-leader of the Collaboratory research team, is a primary recipient of the funding.

“GenX was identified last summer as a potentially dangerous contaminant in our state’s drinking water, and these projects will help us to better understand the scope of this issue and how it might be addressed,” said Al Segars, chair of the N.C. Policy Collaboratory advisory board and PNC Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and faculty director of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Center for Sustainable Enterprise. “By funding research that addresses these kinds of timely environmental quality concerns, the Collaboratory is fulfilling its mission of connecting university research to policy in service to North Carolina citizens.”

The grants will support the following projects:

  • $300,000 to evaluate emerging contaminants in private wells in North Carolina. The grant will build on an existing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-funded study led by MacDonald Gibson. Researchers will test the performance of household water filters in removing lead, microbial contaminants, GenX and other perfluoroalkyl compounds. MacDonald Gibson’s team also will conduct a cost-benefit analysis of interventions for private wells contaminated with lead, GenX and other contaminants.
  • $50,000 for a project led by Matthew Lockett, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill, to develop an easy-to-read, qualitative paper test that would indicate whether GenX might be present in the water and whether additional analysis is necessary. The project is a partnership between the Collaboratory and the UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility, the director of which is Melissa Troester, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the Gillings School.
  • $80,000 to prioritize research and identify ways to address data and monitoring needs for detection of contaminants across the state. The work will be conducted by a statewide consortium of university researchers, organized by the Collaboratory, who are working to identify completed, ongoing and planned research projects on emerging contaminants, including GenX, in North Carolina.

The Collaboratory research team, co-led by MacDonald Gibson and Detlef Knappe, PhD, professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at North Carolina State University, includes faculty members from East Carolina University, North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington and Duke University.

About the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory
Established in summer 2016 by the North Carolina General Assembly, the Collaboratory aims to facilitate dissemination of the University of North Carolina’s policy and research expertise for practical use by state and local government. The Collaboratory facilitates and funds research related to environmental and economic components of the management of North Carolina’s natural resources and of new technologies for habitat, environmental and water quality improvement. To date, the Collaboratory has brought nearly $4 million in research funding to the UNC system.

More information can be found here.


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Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu