Lee Blaney awarded funding to develop new ways to remove “forever chemicals” from water

Published: May 16, 2024

Man smiles at camera, greenery in background.
Lee Blaney (Marlayna Demond '11/UMBC)

Professor Lee Blaney, in the Department of Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering, received $750,000 in funding from the Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) to develop new ways to remove substances dubbed “forever chemicals” from water.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are used in products ranging from cleaning products and clothing to fire-fighting foam. They earned the nickname “forever chemicals” because of the way they persist in the environment. PFAS have been linked to decreased fertility in women, developmental effects in children, reduced immune function, and increased risk of cancer and obesity. The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced limitations on the amount of certain PFAS in drinking water. 

Current technology such as activated carbon and anion-exchange resins can effectively remove the most common PFAS found in water, but do not perform well at removing short- and ultrashort-chain PFAS (which have fewer than eight carbon atoms in their chemical structure.)

The award from SERDP will fund Blaney’s work to develop materials called adsorbents specifically designed for treatment of these short-chain PFAS. Blaney’s colleagues on the project include Ke He, Ph.D. ’17, chemical and biochemical engineering, an assistant research scientist at UMBC, Wenqing Xu, an associate professor in civil and environmental engineering at Villanova University, and Jessica Ray, an assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington.

Tags: , ,

Scroll to Top