Primary Investigator: Matt Simcik
Co-Investigators: William Arnold, Yake Wang
Industry Partners: Geosyntec Consultants; Saint Louis County, Minnesota
Award Type: Seed Grant - Postdoctoral Research Scholar
Problem: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are common commercially used chemical compounds that do not readily break down in the environment. Recent environmental and health studies have identified high levels of PFAS in the environment, within individual organisms, and even directly affecting humans, all of which have been linked to negative environmental health impacts. Recently, PFAS have been demonstrated to be present in and be transported by landfill leachate (contact water). Commercially operated facilities currently ship their leachate to public wastewater treatment facilities, however, these WWT facilities are not equipped to effectively or efficiently treat PFAS contaminated water.
Solution: Landfill leachate will be treated with positively charged cationic polymers before entering a wastewater treatment facility. These polymers have shown potential in sequestering PFAS via sorption to solids. Using a protocol established by the Environmental Protection Agency, the team will conduct lab-scale tests to establish the cationic polymers’ ability to sequester PFAS and prevent their release from solids.
Impact: The use of cationic polymers to treat PFAS within landfill leachate, before the contaminant enters the water treatment facility, would provide a significant technological advancement for an ever-growing water pollution challenge. It is anticipated that this solution would save landfills considerable disposal fees and save costs to water treatment facilities.