Carla Ng Receives $500K NSF CAREER Award

Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are manmade chemicals that are useful in a variety of industries because of their durability, but do not naturally break down in the environment or human body. With evidence showing that PFAS may have adverse effects on human health, Carla Ng, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, wants to further investigate the potential impacts of these chemicals and identify ways to remove them from the environment. She received a five-year, $500,000 NSF CAREER award to pursue this research.

Because of their useful oil- and water-repellent properties, PFAS are used in many consumer products, industrial processes and in firefighting foams, but unfortunately, their manufacturing and widespread use has contributed to the release of these chemicals into the environment. According to Ng, more than 4,000 different kinds of PFAS may have been for decades, and detailed toxicity data does not exist for the large majority of these. The goal of Ng’s CAREER award is to address these issues through a complementary approach using predictive modeling and experiments.