Please tell us about yourself

Kavitha Dasu is working to shed light on a persistent environmental problem: per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). For the past several years, she has been studying the fate of organic contaminants in environmental systems and developing new analytical methods for PFAS and other emerging contaminants at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s National Risk Management Laboratory. Now, she’s bringing that expertise to Battelle to expand Battelle’s capabilities in PFAS research and analysis.

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How does your work benefit the world?

PFAS compounds are among today’s most widespread and persistent environmental pollutants, but there are still many unanswered questions about their toxicity and their fate and transport in the environment. There are more than 3,000 PFAS chemicals in the global market but analytical methods have only been developed for a small handful of them, and health advisory levels have only been set for two: Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). New analytical methods are urgently needed for additional PFAS chemicals to enable accurate site characterization and effective remediation decisions. 

Tell us about your work

Kavitha is working with Battelle’s analytical chemistry team to develop and validate methods for additional PFAS compounds. She also is working to adapt methods currently used for water and soil for other matrices, including sediments and biological tissue. Battelle was recently awarded accreditation for PFAS analysis in solids and non-potable water through the Department of Defense Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (DoD-ELAP). 

“We need new analytical methods to better understand how PFASs move through the environment, how they degrade and where they end up,” Kavitha explains. “There is a lot of focus right now on human exposure risks through drinking water, but there are also other routes of exposure, such as PFAS-contaminated fish consumption or carryover to plants grown in contaminated soil. We have to have analytical methods to quantify PFASs in different matrices to better understand these risks.” 

Prior to joining Battelle, Kavitha designed and conducted studies of the fate of emerging contaminants (ECs) in complex environmental matrices and developed analytical methods for a suite of PFAS chemicals and their precursors. She also worked on the characterization of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) and was involved in projects studying the treatment of poly- or per-fluorinated alkyl acids (PFAAs) in AFFF-contaminated water. She has published several peer-reviewed studies on PFAS fate, transport and biodegradability and served as a peer reviewer for scientific journals.

What did you study? 

Kavitha earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Chemistry from Purdue University. As a graduate student, Kavitha was awarded a National Research Council Research Associateship Award and an American Chemical Society Graduate Student Award in Environmental Chemistry. She holds both a B.S. in Chemistry, Microbiology and Zoology and an M.S. in Organic Chemistry from Osmania University in India.