Prior to coming to the University of South Carolina, Dr. Susan Richardson was a Research Chemist for >24 years at the U.S. EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory in Athens, GA.
For the last several years, Susan has been conducting research in drinking water—specifically in the study of toxicologically important disinfection by-products (DBPs). Susan is the recipient of the 2008 American Chemical Society (ACS) Award for Creative Advancements in Environmental Science & Technology, received an honorary doctorate from Cape Breton University in Canada (2006), and was recently recognized as an ACS Fellow (2016).
While drinking water is likely safer than it was a few decades ago, due to regulations on disinfection by-products (DBPs) and other chemicals, issues remain. For example, only 11 DBPs are currently regulated in the U.S., but there are nearly 700 currently known, many of which are much more toxic than those regulated. Human epidemiological studies show that exposure to DBPs is associated with increased bladder cancer, miscarriage, birth defects, and recently, heart defects. Yet most scientists believe that it is emerging, unregulated DBPs that are responsible for these deleterious effects. Our source waters are also increasingly impacted by wastewater contaminants, including pharmaceuticals, perfluorinated compounds, pesticides, and other chemicals that are not completely removed in wastewater treatment plants. Some of these contaminants survive drinking water treatment and are found in our tap water, and others are transformed, some forming more toxic by-products when they react with chlorine or chloramines during treatment. Finally, while we generally have a good understanding of how to prevent high levels of lead and other heavy metals in our drinking water, we still have huge, unintended releases, as in Flint, MI, and in Washington, D.C. The challenge is how to remove or minimize these contaminants to achieve safe and sustainable drinking water. Current issues will be presented along with applications of mass spectrometry techniques to uncover the chemicals in drinking water and potential ways to remove these contaminants to make our water safer.
Monday, June 12th, 2017 8 - 9:00am
Center for Tomorrow