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Presentations & Abstracts 

We recently presented some of our work at SNO 2019 and EPA Decon Conferences.

Will 2D Nanomaterials be the New Security Threat in the Next Decade?


(Included published and unpublished work. The abstract will be shared soon.)

Biological Functions of Vertically Aligned 2D Nanomaterials and Engineered solutions to Mitigate their Environmental Impact


(Included published and unpublished work. The abstract will be shared soon.)


Employment of Biocatalysis in Nutrient Removal

EWRI 2019 Congress 

This study reviews and tests an emerging nutrient removal technology to assess its feasibility in reducing the total nitrogen (TN) levels in the effluent of a municipal wastewater treatment plant located in the Philadelphia area. The primary focus of this work is to decrease the discharge of TN into the Delaware River by utilization of a feasible and sustainable biocatalysis technology. 
The neighboring state of Maryland has passed legislation mandating the maximum TN concentration for wastewater treatment plants(WWTP) to be 3 mg/L, while Pennsylvania continues to have no regulation. Traditional techniques for denitrification of wastewater are large in scale, difficult to use, expensive, and produce by-products in the form of sludge that contains high levels of contaminants. The use of biocatalysts is a novel approach to traditional nitrification and denitrification processes. Microbes encapsulated in capsules are provided a safe enclosed environment to perform their natural de-nitrification process while producing little sludge and efficiently reducing nitrate in the wastewater to nitrogen gas. 
Throughout this study, the performance of the biocatalysis technology will be assessed first by bench-scale tests to quantify their ability to reduce nitrate in controlled laboratory conditions. Once the nitrate reduction efficiency has been quantified, a pilot-scale biocatalysts system will be designed and tested at a WWTP in Philadelphia, PA. The results will be compiled to provide stakeholders with an assessment of the biocatalysis technology performance in nitrate reduction for wastewater treatment. 

Co-Authors: Ashley Richman, Lyle Prins, Maria Luciani, Julia Scott, Philadelphia – Temple University

Is It the Time to Revisit PCBs Remediation Practices? 
BattelleBiosymp 2019, Fifth International Symposium on Bioremediation and Sustainable Environmental Technologies

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are toxic anthropogenic pollutants that are stable in the environment and recalcitrant to complete biodegradation. Therefore, they are classified as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls (OH-PCBs) are formed in the environment by the oxidation of PCBs through a variety of mechanisms. As a consequence, OH-PCBs have been detected in a wide range of environmental samples. Although environmental concerns associated with PCBs have been the topic of an abundant literature, the formation of OH-PCBs and their detection in the environment have received comparatively little attention. OH-PCBs have recently raised environmental apprehensions because they exert a variety of toxic effects at lower doses than the parent PCBs. OH-PCBs have been shown to exert a range of estrogenic and antiestrogenic activities thus they are disruptors of the endocrine system. 
Some remediation practices used for the treatment of PCB-contaminated soil and water are prone to generate OH-PCBs. There is enough scientific evidence that shows bioremediation by bacteria or plants (phytoremediation) generates OH-PCBs. Advanced oxidation processes (e.g., Fenton oxidation and ozonation) used for in situ soil remediation or wastewater treatment could also form more toxic and mobile PCBs byproducts. Therefore, the emerging literature suggests that this is the time to revisit the current PCBs remediation practices as they may generate more toxic and environmentally mobile byproducts. 
Regulations regarding PCBs are primarily founded on the parent molecules and disregard the potential risk of PCBs metabolites or byproducts. The US Safe Drinking Water and Food Quality Protection Act requires monitoring estrogenic substances in drinking water, but it does not formally list OH-PCBs. Although OH-PCBs have been recognized as endocrine-disrupting compounds. This work suggests that the EPA should consider monitoring and consequently regulating OH-PCBs in the environment.