BSE Graduate selected in Inaugural Rural Health Program
Kathleen Hohweiler was accepted as the first REH T32 Trainee starting in fall of 2023. Kathleen recieved her M.S. in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech and is currenlty a PhD student in the Biological Systems Engineering Department. In collaboration with the Virginia Household Water Quality Program, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and the U.S. Geological Survey the goal of Kathleen's research project focuses on assessing and quantifying the occurrence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in private drinking water supplies (i.e. wells and springs) in Southwest Virginia.
Kathleen is looking forward to using her time in the REH T32 program to expand her work to include a health component that assess the impact of PFAS compounds on private well users in Virginia. PFAS compounds are of increasing concern to those in both the environmental and public health spheres as a result of their association with a variety of negative human-health consequences including bioaccumulation in tissue, human developmental, metabolic, and immune disorders as well as certain types of cancers. Drinking water, sourced from both private and public systems, is considered to be a major contributor to the human digestion of PFAS compounds. Overall, 22% of Virginia’s rural residents, nearly 1.6 million people, solely rely on private drinking water wells as their primary source of drinking water. Private drinking water systems do not fall under US EPA’s jurisdiction, meaning that a drinking water well’s construction, testing, and maintenance are the full responsibility of the homeowner.
Advised by Dr. Leigh-Anne Krometis