Environmental Speaker Series Presents: Community Engagement, ‘Forever Chemicals’, and Health Education

A Public Health Perspective on PFAS in Drinking Water Private Wells in East Selah

Satellite view of the town of Selah, Washington with the words PFAS IN EAST SELAH.

Event Details




Online: Zoom

In-Person at WWU:
Academic West, Room 204



Brought to you by:

College of the Environment, The Foundation for WWU & Alumni


Check out this video to watch the Environmental Speaker Series Presents: Community Engagement, ‘Forever Chemicals’, and Health Education.

What does it mean to “engage communities”? What is the difference between community engagement, outreach, and education? How does community engagement relate to health equity, health outcomes, and Washington State’s public health response to emerging environmental health threats?

In this talk, Claire Nitsche will share how the Washington State Department of Health has focused on these questions to drive their response to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in private drinking wells in the East Selah community. Often called “Forever Chemicals” in the news, PFAS chemicals are an emerging environmental contaminant and public health concern. This is because many types of PFAS are toxic to people and animals, how easily they spread in the environment, and how difficult they are to break down. This talk will include digital audience participation activities, so please come prepared with a laptop or Smart Device if you are able!

The Environmental Speaker Series is free and open to the public. Talks are held each Thursday at 4:30pm in Academic Instructional Center West, room 204. Join us at WWU or online on Zoom!


Claire Nitsche stands on the top of a mountain. She carries a backpack, holds hiking sticks, and wears a cap, sleeveless top, and yoga pants.

Claire Nitsche ('15), Speaker

Health Educator, Washington State Department of Health

Claire Nitsche (she/her) is a health educator with the Washington State Department of Health. She uses health psychology, behavior change theory, health literacy, anthropology, and social marketing to drive community education and engagement on PFAS drinking water issues across the state. She is responsible for “translating” science from DOH’s toxicology team into actionable, understandable, and accessible education materials and engagement initiatives. Claire’s background includes experience in Global Health, Anthropology, and Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, as well developing and teaching environmental health education courses in the U.S. and Nepal. Claire received her BA in Anthropology from Western Washington University and her MPH in Global Health and Health Disparities from the Colorado School of Public Health.

Accommodations and Other Details

Contact The Foundation for WWU & Alumni for this event if you have questions or need disability accommodations by calling (360) 650-3353 or emailing Alumni@wwu.edu

Advance notice for disability accommodations and special needs is greatly appreciated. Please indicate your special needs on the registration form.

There will be auto-captions available for the Zoom webinar.

Limited paid parking is available in the C lots at the south end of campus and in lots 6V and 7G at the north end of campus. Western provides comprehensive parking details—including lot locations, applicable fees, and campus map. Please note that parking in the C lot and 12A by Fairhaven College is free after 4:30pm on weekdays and all hours on weekends.