Weihsueh Chiu Pic Fire

effects of the itc fire response on the houston ship channel
Presented by dr. Weihsueh a. chiu

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
6:00 - 7:00 pm

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Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances in the Houston Ship Channel Following Firefighting Foam Deployment at the Intercontinental Terminal Company Fire

Following the fires at Intercontinental Terminal Company (ITC) in Deer Park on March 17, 2019, more than 130,000 gallons of Class B firefighting foams were used, causing these materials to flow into the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay (HSC/GB). Firefighting foams contain Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – a class of compounds widely used as surfactants. PFAS are persistent organic pollutants that have been reported as contaminants in waterways and drinking water systems across the United States. In partnership with the Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF), the Texas A&M University Superfund Research Program evaluated the impact of the ITC incident response on PFAS levels in HSC/GB. Time course data shows a sharp spike in PFAS levels in the days and weeks after the incident and a gradual decline by mid-June 2019 with patterns consistent with the tidal flow in HSC/GB. This work demonstrates the impact of an industrial incident on the water quality in HSC/GB and establishes baseline levels for PFAS for future comparisons.

Weihsueh A. Chiu, Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences at Texas A&M University. Before joining the university in 2015, he worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for more than 14 years, most recently as branch chief in the Office of Research and Development. His research in human health risk assessment includes toxicokinetics, physiologically-based pharmacokinetic modeling, characterizing uncertainty and variability, systematic review, and meta-analysis, with particular interest in Bayesian and probabilistic methods. Dr. Chiu received an AB in Physics from Harvard University, a MA and PhD in Physics from Princeton University, and a Certificate in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affair.

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