Honors Theses


Moshan Kahandawala, Ph.D. / Denise Taylor, Ph.D..


Civil & Environmental Engineering & Engineering Mechanics

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Honors Thesis


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are anthropogenic chemicals that are extremely stable and highly toxic to the environment and human health. PFAS are used in a myriad of common products including nonstick cookware, water-resistant fabrics, personal care products, cosmetics, and aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). Because of their widespread use and resistance to degradation, PFAS have infiltrated the environment, including drinking water sources. To combat the spread of PFAS, various methods for treatment and removal of PFAS are being researched. A promising solution that has been identified for PFAS removal is thermal treatment, where degradation of PFAS occurs after exposure to exceedingly high temperatures. However, chemical characteristics of certain PFAS create the potential for them to adhere to equipment used during experimentation. For proper assessment of PFAS removal, it is essential to confirm that there is no carryover from sampling or contamination on the experimental equipment. This paper evaluates two techniques for their potential to effectively eliminate PFAS carry over on glassware used in a sampling train for thermal treatment. The first is a procedure used to clean glassware in the field when sampling for PFAS. The second is a modified version of the glassware cleaning procedure recommended in the OTM 45 protocol from EPA for PFAS sampling. In this experiment, glass impingers contaminated with solutions containing two of the most prevalent PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), were cleaned following the two separate procedures. Results from an analytical laboratory following EPA Method 537 showed that the second cleaning procedure was approximately five times more effective at removing PFOA and about two times more effective than the first cleaning procedure at the removal of PFOS from the impingers. Therefore, the second cleaning procedure is recommended for glassware used in PFAS experimentation.

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Undergraduate research