Dr Cheng Zhang – CJ Martin Fellowship, University of Queensland
Cleaning up Australia’s drinking water: efficient new product removes ‘forever’ chemical
Australian water and global wallets might soon be free of the $300 billion impact of ‘forever’ chemicals called PFAS. UQ researchers have designed a new product that cleans up PFAS chemicals that are extensively found in Australian drinking and waste waters.
“We believe this discovery gives us a pathway to PFAS-free water in Australia, and has huge benefits for our local communities and water treatment plants,” says Dr Cheng Zhang (UQ).
The product that can absorb PFAS is highly efficient, selective and reusable. This is essential because PFAS are manmade chemicals which can travel long distances through soil and water, and do not naturally break down.
The levels of PFAS in over 600 locations in Australia exceed international environmental standards. In particular, firefighters and people living in the PFAS affected sites, e.g. Oakey (QLD), Williamtown (NSW) and Fiskville (VIC), have expressed significant concerns about cancer clusters and potential exacerbation of existing health conditions.
Other products were developed to remove PFAS but they are not very efficient or specific (good at grabbing only PFAS), so it is an urgent need for a more effective approach.
“The efficient treatment of PFAS contaminated water is becoming an essential consideration for the establishment of water sustainability in Australia,” Dr Zhang says.
“Our product addresses the issue of extensive PFAS pollution in Australia and will deliver ongoing benefits to the Australia water and environmental industries, as well as local communities.”
Dr Zhang works with colleagues including Professor Andrew Whittaker