Dana Gonzalez

Chemist, Hampton Roads Sanitation District’s Central Environmental Laboratory (HRSD CEL)

Biography

Dana Gonzalez is a chemist in Hampton Roads Sanitation District’s Central Environmental Laboratory (HRSD CEL) in Eastern Virginia. She specializes in trace metals and emerging organic contaminants in drinking water, wastewater, and environmental matrices.

In her lab, Dana has developed methods for analyzing trace metal content in wastewater and water reuse samples using Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry (ICPMS) technology in support of HRSD’s Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow (SWIFT). This project will use advanced drinking water treatment to produce a highly treated effluent that will be used to replenish the Potomac Aquifer, which is rapidly being depleted by excessive groundwater withdrawals. This program will not only reduce the rate of land subsidence in the region, but will also greatly reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that is discharged by HRSD into the Chesapeake Bay.

Dana’s most recent work has centered on perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a suite of chemicals that are used to make Teflon, firefighting foam, and stain resistant coatings. This emerging organic contaminant has been associated with health issues including liver toxicity, cancer, and endocrine disorders.

Currently, Dana is investigating PFAS impacts on advanced biological nutrient removal at wastewater treatment plants. In addition, she is interested in assessing new treatment technologies for removing both PFOS and PFOA as well as smaller perflourinated compounds that are typically more difficult to treat and more commonly used in industrial applications.

Dana has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia. She is currently completing a Masters in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. Prior to HRSD, Dana worked at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, where she wrote water pollution reduction plans for various impaired watersheds in Eastern Virginia.