Member interview with Melissa Goicoechea Feldtmann from IVL
Member’s interview this month is Melissa Goicoechea Feldtmann from IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute. Melissa has worked widely with the PFAS issues. When we met her first when she started at IVL, she introduced us to the documentary film
Dark Waters together with her own anecdote when she lived in the US. Since then, she has kept us alert on the danger of PFAS, and she is one of our PFAS living dictionary when it comes to what is going on in the world of PFAS.
Tell us who you are and how do you work with PFAS issue? What is your expert area in PFAS?
I work with investigations, risk-assessments and remediation of contaminated land and water from historical and current industries and activities. My focus for PFAS is applying research about products, substances, spreading patterns, exposure risks, environmental impact into actual contaminated sites to ensure a sustainable and permanent risk reduction for the future.
What is your main concern about PFAS and the environment?
My main worry is that we keep substituting one PFAS with another instead of stop using it all together. It is taking too long for governments to address the continuous output of PFAS from contaminated sites, products and waste.
What is the reason that made you interested in PFAS?
When I was working as an environmental inspector it became obvious that PFAS is everywhere because it has been and still is being used in so many products, both household and industrial products and it is so mobile in the environment that it shows up everywhere even far away from any obvious source in concentrations that are potentially harmful. Since it’s so persistent it will just keep accumulating in the environment and in people. I believe the first step is acknowledging the problem so I constantly learn and educate everyone that will listen, and some that don’t.
Any PFAS-project you are working on currently and with whom (if this can be shared, one link)?
I am currently helping a client to procure water treatment systems for their PFAS contaminated sites. We are reaching out globally to find the newest and most cost-effective treatment systems currently available.
In your opinion, what is the main challenge on phasing out PFAS from this world?
The main challenge is how to treat contaminated soil and water in such a way that it does not generate PFAS contaminated waste or move the problem to a new site, but instead can be permanently destroyed.
What do you enjoy most in your free time?
I love going on adventures and learning new things together with my daughters or friends. I enjoy backpacking, sailing, diving, surfing but at the same time learning more about geography, history and culture.
Other things you want to share with us?
I recently found out that a lot of products containing PFOS and PFOA are still in use in Europe until January 1st 2023 because they contain less than 0,1% PFOS (100 000 000 ng/kg).
Three tips on how to contribute reduce PFAS substance at the individual level?
Stop buying and get rid of all non-stick cookware, if you have a foam fire extinguisher check with the producer if it contains PFAS. If you are unsatisfied with their answer don’t use it and replace it as soon as possible with a PFAS free product. When buying outdoor clothing; jackets, shoes etc. always ask for PFAS free products.