Ontario 3MT Competition - 2019, McMaster University

2019-05-16

A Slippery Situation - Release of PFAS from Commercial Products.

Thanks to McMaster University for this video

David Patch Presentation (Transcript)

Transcript

(Opening screen with 3MT logo) - David Patch, Royal Military College
3MT April 17, 2019, McMaster University
A Slippery Situation
Release of PFAS from Commercial Products.

Next up, please welcome from the Royal Military College, David Patch

(Cut to title slide
A Slippery Situation
Release of PFAS from Commercial Products.)

(Fade to David Patch, on stage, speaking)

It's slippery. It's sneaky. It's in you right now
and you don't even know it.

It's called PFAS and it's just about everywhere.

PFAS - which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
are a class of chemicals invented in the 1950s for use in non-stick coatings and oil-resistant materials.

PFAS is chemically similar to Teflon in a lot of ways,

but it has a water-loving end group, which means it's great at moving into water-containing things,

like rivers, oceans, streams, and our blood.

Since the 1950s, PFAS has been used in a variety of commercial products,
including pizza boxes, popcorn bags, and cosmetic makeup.

(Cut to title slide
A Slippery Situation
Release of PFAS from Commercial Products.)

Not only has PFAS been found in everything, but now it's been found everywhere.

(Fade to David Patch again, on stage, speaking)

It's been found in drinking water, food, household dust,
and the blood of approximately 98% of all North Americans.

PFAS has a long list of potential health concerns
but one of its biggest is its ability to act as a second-generational health hazard.

This means if a future mother is exposed to PFAS, her children can develop neurological and autoimmune issues when they're born.

As we can see, this is nasty stuff.

So how do we stop it?

Well, we have to find it first.

PFAS does a really good job of sneaking its way into the environment.

It can escape from those commercial products I mentioned before, and enter into our bodies,

either directly, or indirectly through the food and water we all consume.

If only there was someone willing to spend thousands of hours to collect a whole bunch of materials and test them.

to figure out what's going on.

No? No takers in the audience?

Alright. Well, I guess I'll do it.

And that's what my research is:

To develop artificial methods to look at the release of PFAS from commercial products.

One of the biggest challenges we face is developing methods that are realistic to how the product is actually being used.

For example, I could easily take a popcorn bag, scrape all the insides out and test it for PFAS.

But that's not really realistic to how people actually eat popcorn out of a popcorn bag.

Unless you're the kind of person to rip open the bag and just lick all the butter off the insides,
in which case you probably have much greater concerns in your life than PFAS.

You should really stop doing that; it's gross!

So ... how exactly do I test every possible use scenario?

Well ... I've gotten really good at it.

For example, to look at the release of PFAS from clothing, I can expose it to sweat, or detergent.

To look at the release of PFAS from food packaging material, I can expose it to artificial saliva, or food grease.

To look at the release of PFAS from cosmetic makeup, I can expose it to artificial skin oils, or undergrad students.

(Laughter) The possibilities are endless.

I can then take the data I get, and use it to build models
to assess the risk that different commercial products pose to the general population.

So, with a lot of high-tech machinery, creativity, and commercial products - and I'm talking about a lot of commercial products -

I'm identifying what kind of bad chemicals are coming out of your store-bought products

so that you and your loved ones can lick pizza boxes and popcorn bags to your heart's content. Thank-you very much

(Fade to title slide
A Slippery Situation
Release of PFAS from Commercial Products.)

David Patch receiving the fourth place certificate.  Congratulations!
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