PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The University of Rhode Island (URI) is receiving a grant to research ways to prevent pollution from polyfluorinated alkyl contaminants, also known as PFAS.

The funding is an $8.1 million 5-year grant renewal provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health and Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

PFAS are manmade chemicals often used to make products stain-proof or liquid-resistant. They can be found in water-repellent outerwear and shoes, stain-guarded carpets and couches, many kinds of nonstick cookware, microelectronics, and items like coated microwave popcorn bags.

The chemicals are known to be harmful to the environment. Research shows they can cause cancer and tissue abnormalities and affect hormones in humans and animals.

Previous research conducted by the university found that 98% of Americans have PFAS in their blood and more than 110 million Americans have PFAS in their drinking water.

The funding will be used to allow URI’s PFAS research and outreach program to continue. The university says it’s one of the longer-running PFAS science efforts in the country with the goal of providing research-based solutions to this kind of pollution.