I work with PFAS and if you don't know, PFAS are per and poly fluoroalkyl substances used in all sorts of commercial and industry processes. PFAS are mainly found in nonstick coatings for products like fry pans, food packaging and especially as the main ingredient in AFFFs (aqueous fire-fighting foams). Recently, PFAS have been detected in the Great lakes and in our drinking water. Why is this a problem?
PFAS have shown to cause endocrine disruption, immune-defects and now even possibly cancer in birds and fish! This is a global emerging water contaminant issue. PFAS end up in our waste streams and accumulate in waste water treatment plants. PFAS are referred to as the "forever compound" because of their extreme environmental persistence and resistance to degradation. But nanotechnology shows a lot of potential in aiding the removal and degradation of PFAS from aqueous solution. My research focuses on a combination approach using nanohybrid materials to trap PFAS onto its surface and perform advanced oxidation reactions in order to degrade them.
PFAS are not only harmful to aquatic species, but also to us, if we eat fish or drink water. If you want to know more about why PFAS is a problem and why you should care, please take a look at my poster.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), highly fluorinated aliphatic compounds used in various manufacturing industries, pose serious environmental concern due to their high resistance against environmental degradation processes. The recalcitrant nature of PFAS has stimulated further research on developing advanced treatment techniques. In this study, we employed a nanohybrid, reduced graphene oxide/iron (rGO-Fe) to evaluate PFAS removal performance. The rGO-Fe nanohybrid possesses substantial adsorption capacity due to high surface area and reduction capacity due to presence of low oxidation state Fe NPs. Additionally, the nanohybrid can catalytically generate hydroxyl radical (·OH) in presence of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Preliminary results suggest the NPs exhibited high PFOS removal (>80%) from aqueous solution (500 ppb) within first two hours, however, PFOA removal was much lower (~40%). Further studies are ongoing to delineate the governing removal mechanisms and degradation product to optimize the performance of the rGO-Fe nanohybrid for PFAS removal.
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