Environmental advisory board names leader, sets meeting date

Environmental advisory board names leader, sets meeting date
(Source: NCDEQ)

RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - Jamie Bartram, a professor who is the founding director of The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, has been appointed to lead the state Secretaries' Science Advisory Board.

According to a Thursday afternoon news release from the NC Department of Environmental Quality, Bartram will lead the recently expanded board, which is scheduled to meet on Oct. 23.

"Dr. Bartram is a leader in the field of water and health, and will help guide a panel of experts in the fields of epidemiology, toxicology and other disciplines," DEQ Secretary Michael Regan said in the release. "With these experts, we will have the range of scientific expertise necessary to protect public health and the quality of our water and air."

The board's first task will be studying ways to better protect public health and the environment from new or emerging chemicals of concern in NC waterways, including GenX and hexavalent chromium.

Bartram, who is the Don and Jennifer Holzworth Distinguished Professor of environmental sciences and engineering at UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health, has multiple interests in the areas of water quality, including management systems for drinking water safety and rural drinking water supply.

State officials plan to announce the other new members of the board as well as a location and agenda for the first meeting soon.

Gov. Roy Cooper approved a revised charter for the group, which had been known as the Secretary's Science Advisory Board on Toxic Air Pollutants and based solely at DEQ.

It now will be co-managed by Regan and Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services. All members will be appointed by the DEQ and DHHS secretaries. Members come from academic institutions, the public and private sectors, and independent research facilities.

The panel will meet at least six times each year and the new charter directs it to assist DEQ and DHHS in achieving clean air, water and land.

Specifically, the panel will perform or recommend reviews and evaluations of contaminants released to the environment, act as consultants on DEQ's determinations to regulate releases of contaminants and more.

"Environmental exposures are important and often overlooked causes of disease worldwide," Bartram said. "I am extremely pleased to see the leadership of North Carolina tackle emerging hazards. I look forward to seeing the board provide practical, workable support to Governor Cooper and DEQ so that we may effectively address the needs of the people of our state."

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