For decades, manmade chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, were used in everything from carpets to frying pans to firefighting chemicals for their ability to repel water and oil.
That was before a wide array of negative health effects ranging from cancer and low birth weights to effects on the immune system were discovered in some kinds of PFAS.
"Not only are the chemicals everywhere, and bad, but the advisory level established by the EPA is so extremely low that it makes it even more challenging to treat them," said Reyes Sierra, a chemical and environmental engineering professor who is affiliated with the UA's Institute of the Environment. "The University of Arizona is doing something about it."
This is why I do my work. Environmental engineering research is an area in which you can really see the benefit. It's meaningful."