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Dr. Joe Charbonnet
Dr. Joe Charbonnet

Assistant Professor
Iowa State University

Dr. Joe Charbonnet is an assistant professor of environmental engineering at Iowa State University, where he studies chemical water quality. He earned his doctorate at UC Berkeley, where he researched materials to treat stormwater contamination. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Colorado School of Mines studying PFAS forensics. He was also previously a Staff Scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute, where he worked to reduce risks from flame retardant chemicals. The toxic contaminant he identifies with most closely is lead, because he considers himself flexible, yet somewhat dense.


Persistent, Perfluorinated, Perplexing: PFAS Forensics

Contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is a pressing environmental problem due to the widespread use and disposal of these toxic compounds. Stakeholders are increasingly interested in robust methods for PFAS source tracking, which characterizes and differentiates sources at a PFAS-contaminated site. PFAS source tracking should employ analytical measurements, multivariate analyses, and an understanding of PFAS fate and transport within the framework of a conceptual site model. Converging lines of evidence used to differentiate PFAS sources include: identification of PFAS associated with unique sources; the ratios of PFAS homologs, classes, and isomers at a contaminated site; and a site’s hydrogeochemical conditions. As the field of PFAS source tracking progresses, the development of new PFAS analytical standards and the wider availability of high-resolution mass spectral data will enhance currently available analytical capabilities

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