The Challenges of Treating PFAS - The Forever Chemicals

Firefighter spraying white chemical foam

Thursday, May 20, 2021
11:00 a.m. PDT




Check out this video to watch the The Challenges of Treating PFAS - The Forever Chemicals.

Brought to you in partnership with Huxley's Institute of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and the WWU Alumni Association

Please join us for the next speaker in our series on Toxicology and Societies: The Impacts of Chemicals in our Lives.

Michelle Crimi will share with us the challenges with treating PFAS. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as the “forever chemicals” are a stable, synthetic class of chemicals that have contaminated air, soil, biota, surface water, and groundwater. Because concentrations in the environment are much greater than regulatory guidelines allow, cost effective treatment approaches are needed that consider the unique chemical properties of PFAS – they are highly soluble, thus move into and readily within water systems, and most PFAS compounds do not break down under normal environmental conditions.

This presentation will introduce approaches for removing PFAS from water and recent related research activity. Technologies of particular focus include sonolysis and plasma treatment.  The presentation will also highlight recent research to advance and optimize PFAS treatment technologies, with a particular emphasis on treatment trains for more efficient and effective remediation.  Some of the socioeconomic challenges of addressing PFAS contamination will also be introduced.

Our vision in developing this series was to support a better understanding of something that affects all of us. There are over 300,000 chemicals being produced and used in almost everything we wear, eat, and drink. How can you ever hope to understand when and where you or your family might be at risk from some of these chemicals? The short answer is, you can’t know everything about all of these substances, but you can learn more about how toxicology (the study of toxic substances) affects you and your society.

This seminar series aims to help you better appreciate, understand, and evaluate the many ways that manufactured chemicals interact with all humans on Earth.

More information about the speaker series is available here.

Michelle Crimi

Michelle Crimi


Michelle Crimi is a Professor jointly appointed in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Engineering & Management at Clarkson University. Her research focuses on developing in situ treatment technologies for groundwater contamination, determining the impact of groundwater technologies on aquifer quality, and integrating treatment technologies for optimized risk reduction.

She earned her B.S. in Industrial Hygiene and Environmental Toxicology from Clarkson University, her M.S. in Environmental Health from Colorado State University, and her Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. She spent the 2014-2015 academic year as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa.

Learn more about Michelle.

Ruth Sofield

Ruth Sofield


Ruth Sofield is a Professor of environmental toxicology and chemistry in the Huxley College of the Environment. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Ruth’s research group focuses on the effects of water and air pollution. Their current projects include the aquatic toxicity of microplastic and tire wear particles, and the use of moss as a biomonitoring tool for particulate matter. Ruth is a member of the Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel and the President of the Pacific Northwest Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Tracy Collier

Tracy Collier


Tracy Collier received his Ph.D. in Fisheries Sciences from the University of Washington. He has worked for over 45 years as a toxicologist, with more than 35 of those years spent at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, where he served as the director of a science division that employed up to 100 people, covering several disciplines, including environmental toxicology, analytical chemistry, harmful algal blooms, and watershed processes. He has over 175 scientific publications, and currently is an affiliate faculty at Western.

Upcoming Spring Quarter Talks

June 3, 2021
Title: The Perils of PFAS
Speaker: Linda Birnbaum (currently Scientist Emeritus and former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) of the National Institutes of Health, and the National Toxicology Program (NTP)

Questions and Accommodations

Contact the Western Alumni Association for this event. Feel free to call at (360) 650-3353 or email at if you have any questions or comments.

There will be auto-captions available for this event. To request closed captions, please mark the request on the registration form. Advance notice of three days to one week is appreciated.