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North Carolina’s industrial and military endeavors have led to high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in our water systems, particularly in the Cape Fear watershed, which extends into 26 counties in North Carolina. While researchers at UNC have studied PFAS contamination and remediation efforts from a scientific perspective, we lack humanistic research that examines how individuals make sense of healthcare experiences that could be linked to PFAS. To address this gap, the HHIVE Lab and the Digital Literacy and Communication (DLC) Lab, both housed in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, have created a collaborative research project to conduct oral history interviews with North Carolinians who believe they have been affected by PFAS.

This project is supported by a Carolina Humanities for the Public Good grant.

Our research team includes three graduate students who will partner with three undergraduate students to conduct oral histories and develop humanities-focused data analysis methods to synthesize and interpret our findings. Our team reflects interdisciplinary strengths in health humanities, environmental humanities, public health, and digital humanities. The team includes:

Our goal is to grow this project such that hundreds of stories can be collected and housed on a public-facing website that will showcase North Carolinians’ experiences regarding PFAS and water quality in our state.