Stuck on You: How Nonstick Chemicals Became a Forever Headache

Upcoming on site and virtual lecture:
Mon., June 5
7–9 pm

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Dr. Carla Ng, PhD
Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Carla Ng, PhD

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a class of chemicals once praised as engineering marvels. They are the chemicals behind Teflon, Stainmaster, and GoreTex—they made our frying pans non-stick, our upholstery and carpets stain-resistant, and our outdoor gear breathable, yet waterproof. But now these same chemicals have been dubbed “forever chemicals” because some of the same properties that made them such durable and useful substances in everyday products have made them extremely durable in the environment. More concerningly, they are now known to accumulate in wildlife and humans, and some PFAS have been linked to multiple toxic effects, including cancer and reproductive impairment. PFAS can now be found in the blood of >99% of Americans and populations around the globe. Scientists and engineers are now racing to find solutions to the PFAS problem—how to remove them from drinking water, break them down, and prevent them from being used in the first place. Dr. Ng will discuss what PFAS are, how we came to be in our current highly exposed situation, and what we as a society can do next.

About Carla Ng

Dr. Carla Ng is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, with secondary appointments in Environmental and Occupational Health and Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. The research in her group focuses on developing models to understand where chemicals go in organisms and ecosystems, build using tools from chemistry, biology, and engineering. Active research areas include modeling the accumulation of the “forever chemicals” PFAS in wildlife and humans, tracking the complex chemical mixtures in the environment, and exploring the role of the industrial food system on human exposure to persistent and toxic chemicals.

Register for Café Sci

The event is FREE to attend in person or virtually, but preregistration is required opens in a new window! Carnegie Science Center would like to continue to offer programs like Café Sci, Women in STEM, and others. Please consider making a donation when you register. Once you sign up, you’ll get an email confirmation. Have a question for Dr. Ng? You’ll be able to type your questions in the Q&A section during the presentation!

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