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Removal of PFAS from Wastewater

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are manufactured chemicals that can harm freshwater ecosystems and pose significant human health risks due to their toxicity. PFAS-contaminated wastewater arrives at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) where conventional technologies do not target and remove PFAS, hence PFAS are discharged into the environment.

Zanina Ilieva is a Civil Engineering PhD student at Toronto Metropolitan University who is researching novel treatment technologies that can sustainably and cheaply remove PFAS from WWTPs. Zanina Ilieva is also the inaugural winner of the Nick Reid Memorial Award 2022. 

One project that Zanina is most proud of is a statistical meta-analysis on PFAS removal in WWTPs worldwide. The meta-analysis will explain how different PFAS chemicals behave using various WWTP technologies and whether similarities and patterns can be identified amongst PFAS groups. The findings from this analysis will guide the development of optimized novel treatment technologies for the most critical PFAS contaminants in WWTPs.

Testing for PFAS is a lengthy and costly process. Zanina’s work aims to make this process easier and more accessible so that mandatory PFAS monitoring programs can be more easily implemented.