CORVALLIS, Ore. — EPA awards Oregon State University nearly $2 million to study the health impacts of common chemical.

The scientists will be using thousands of zebrafish to determine what those health impacts might be.

Zebrafish share about 80 percent of the human genetic code. So, if a chemical causes an adverse reaction in the fish, there's a good chance it would cause similar reactions in humans.

The scientists at OSU will study how a chemical called polyfluoroalkyl, also known as PFAS, impacts the fish.

PFASs are widely used these days in things like Teflon pans, fire suppressants, even water-repellent clothing.

Preliminary studies have shown the chemicals can affect, even compromise, our immune systems, but not much else is known.

"We know they are in the environment, we know they are in our tissues because we have been exposed to contaminated materials, but we don't really know to what degree they're hazardous," said OSU Environmental and Molecular Toxicologist Robert Tanguay. "That is what this grant is allowing us to do."

The scientists will be looking at whether the chemicals or a certain combination of the chemicals cause things like autism, cancer, or neuro-degenerative diseases.

This is only a three-year study, but the scientists believe it will give them enough time to find the answers they are looking for.

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