From Science to Policy: Fighting Forever Chemicals


While working on his dissertation at the UC Berkeley School of Environmental Engineering, Tom Bruton had high hopes for developing a groundbreaking technology to break down toxic chemicals in groundwater. But in 2017, after years of painstaking development, his method proved less than effective.

“The big takeaway was that prevention, not clean-up, is our best bet for reducing toxins,” Bruton said.

Now, two years later, Bruton is a champion of toxics prevention in his role as senior scientist at the Berkeley-based Green Science Policy Institute, founded by UC Berkeley Research Associate in Chemistry Arlene Blum. Bruton met Blum on campus in 2015 during his dissertation research, and began working for her while still a student. When Bruton graduated, Blum hired him full time. Bruton specializes in PFAS, per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of toxic chemicals found in countless consumer and industrial products. As the sole PFAS expert on a team of just four scientists, Bruton helms research projects and communicates findings to lawmakers, non-profits, and industry leaders worldwide.

“PFAS are a large and quite complicated class of compounds,” said Blum. “Tom can explain them really well to scientists and non-scientists alike.”

Brett Simpson

Read the complete article here: Berkeley Science Review