Month: June 2021

What PFAS is & Why You Should Care

picture of a faucet in someone's kitchen pouring water into a sink to show drinking water contaminants

Anyone following the news in recent years has probably read about the pervasiveness of PFAS compounds (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl) in the natural environment. Called “forever” chemicals, this extensive family of chemical compounds is ubiquitous having been widely used for a variety of purposes. Ongoing environmental data collection indicates these compounds are mobile and slow to degrade in the environment. PFAS compounds are known to bioaccumulate within our bodies.

This graphic is from Healthy Indoors. Click image for original graphic.

While considerable research continues, suspected medical concerns of high exposure include increased cholesterol, immune system adverse impacts, cancer, and thyroid hormone effects. PFAS is a significant current public drinking water focus with a kaleidoscope of individual state limits while federal limit development remains in progress.

Communities who own and operate wastewater treatment facilities (WWTF) will notice new requirements for PFAS monitoring in their upcoming National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NDPES) discharge permits for their facilities. Several New England wastewater facilities have recently received new NPDES discharge permits that include treated effluent and dewatered sludge monitoring for PFAS compounds. The final EPA requirements for sludge monitoring and reporting is still in process, but the data gathered over the next 5 years across New England, and nationally, will be used to further define the requirements for controlling disposal of PFAS into the environment. 

This image is from Toxic-Free Future. Click image for original graphic.

Hoyle Tanner continues to meet the needs of the industry with engineering staff whose experience includes water system PFAS treatment as well as WWTF monitoring and reporting. Please contact me for help with your community.

Employee Spotlight: Kayla Hampe

Kayla Hampe Structural Engineer and Aspiring World Traveler

1.  What drew you to Hoyle, Tanner?
It was an opportunity to pursue my interest in bridge design with a diverse group of people that would allow me to be in an engaging and intellectually challenging career. It also helped that we had two offices in my home state and would cut my commute by more than half.
2. What’s something invaluable you’ve learned here?
Give four engineers a problem and they’ll probably give you four different viable solutions. Put four engineers together in a room with that problem, and they’ll collaborate to pull together the best pieces of each of their solutions, to create a better, more efficient, and simpler solution.
3. What’s your favorite time of year to work at Hoyle, Tanner?
The fall when I get to get out of the office for site observation on construction sites, so that I get to do what I love and enjoy the New England weather and take in the beautiful colors of autumn.
4. What’s the coolest thing you are working on?
The coolest thing I’m working on is a project in Peterborough, NH. It is one of the largest bridge reconstruction projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on and it has had numerous unique challenges both during design and during construction. It’s a beautiful reinforced concrete arch bridge with masonry stone facing that’s part of the downtown historic district. The project also involves roadway reconstruction, retaining wall replacement (with three different types of retaining walls!), and a partial dam reconstruction.
5. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far this week?
I won bingo during a fitness challenge at work!
6. How many different states have you lived in?
Two: New Hampshire (born and raised) and Pennsylvania during grad school.
7. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
Penne and marinara sauce with mushrooms and onions, followed by moose tracks ice cream with whipped cream.
8. What kind of pet do you have and how did you choose to name it?
I have two cats and a dog. My oldest cat is Sebastian. I adopted him from the NHSPCA when he was about one, with the name Simba. I wanted to choose his name, but wanted it to be similar to Simba so he wouldn’t be confused. I decided to go with Sebastian to keep the “S” sound and keep it with the Disney theme. My other cat is named Reu (sounds like “Roo”) and I did not choose her name. I adopted her from my friend who moved to Australia for grad school and her name is supposed to mean “friend.” My dog’s name is Grady, which he was named as a puppy by someone else and we decided to keep it.
9. What is a fun or interesting fact about your hometown?
We have a historical marker for Wentworth Cheswell (a Revolutionary War veteran) who lived here. He rode in the opposite direction as Paul Revere to warn colonists the redcoats were coming; he was buried here in 1817.
10. What are three things still left on your bucket list
1. I’ve been to Canada, Australia, Mexico, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, but I would like to see the Seven Wonders of the World
2. Learn Turkish
3. Go to a masquerade

11. Name three items you’d take with you to a desert island
1. A knife
2. My favorite book
3. A photo of my family

12. What characteristic do you admire most in others?
Integrity – it’s doing the right thing even when no one’s watching.
13. How old is the oldest item in your closet?
20 years old maybe?
14. Words to live by? Favorite Quote?
There are so many good ones out there, and I managed to narrow it down to four…
“Now these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“Who you are tomorrow begins with what you do today.” Tim Fargo
“You don’t need anyone else’s permission to be happy. Your life is magnificent not because someone says it is, but because you choose to see it as such.” Ralph Marston
Often, we don’t know where a path will lead us, but we need to have faith and courage to take the first step to move forward and keep advancing. Each day our choices either move us towards the best version of ourselves or away from it, and forms who we become during our life journey. We can choose to be positive and see the brighter side, and not let others bring us down. Choose happy, be kind, and love one another. And don’t forget to laugh.
15. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A meter maid and a professional bass fisherwoman.
16. If you were to skydive from an airplane what would you think about on the way down?
Why did I jump out of a plane?

Artistic Expression & Engineering Solution: One artist’s hobby and how she relates it to her career

Kathryn Dziadowicz is a structural engineer out of our Portsmouth office by day and artist in her free time, selling her handmade pieces in local stores and markets. Creativity and design are big parts of both artistic expression and engineering solutions, so Kathryn has answered some questions for us as we explore the connection between art and engineering.

  1. How did you go about starting your art business?

Going into senior year of high school, I was faced with the choice to either take advanced placement studio art or principles of engineering for my final elective since both courses took place during the same period. Since I wanted to go into the engineering field, I took the engineering course and loved it. Fast forward to the summer going into my senior year of college, and I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in four years.

One day after looking around on the internet, I saw an acrylic pouring video on the internet and I was hooked. I went to grab supplies that night and turned my college bedroom into a makeshift studio. After a few months working on pours, I discovered resin. When cured, the two-part mixture creates a glass-like finish. It was unlike anything I was ever exposed to before.

Between the acrylic pours, resin pieces, and sketches, there wasn’t a bare spot on my walls. My roommate at the time gave me a nudge and tagged me in a post for a student-only craft fair at UNH; the next thing I knew, I was selling at my first craft fair. What started as a hobby has now allowed me to travel across New England to participate in multiple markets and have my work featured in several stores and hundreds of peoples’ homes. It’s so surreal to think about how it all began.

  • What is the process for your art?

I begin by taping off the surface where I don’t want resin to adhere to. Each piece is then base coated with acrylic paint to resemble the colors of the ocean, which is the source of inspiration for my work. Then all of the pieces are individually leveled on my worktable (not the easiest task when you live in a home built in the 1800s.) Then I apply the resin, I add white pigment to a portion of the piece to blow out with a heat gun to resemble waves. This process is repeated several times over the next several days until the piece has the desired amount of depth and has a finish free of microparticles. After fully curing for 72 hours, each piece is de-taped, sanded, stamped and hung.

When a new project comes along, the big picture is usually the first thing that is looked at. Before diving into a project, it is key to properly understand the clients’ goals and what the project objective is. Site constraints, schedule and budget are important factors to understand the nuances of each project.

For most of the projects I have been involved in, I am the project representative for construction oversite. Before going onto site, I try to memorize as much of the plans as I can, review the quantities, and develop a plan for site visits. Once on site, I serve as the eyes and ears for the client to ensure the project is built as intended.

In my opinion one of the most important parts of oversite is coordination with the design team which allows me to understand why certain design elements were chosen and the thought process behind the design. Communication with other team members is one of my favorite aspects of the entire engineering process; everyone always has something to bring to the table and it goes to show how much more there is to learn.

  • Describe a project that you’ve done with Hoyle, Tanner where your artistic and technical knowledge overlapped?

Last summer while on a bridge rehabilitation project, we had called out elastomeric concrete along an expansion joint replacement. The contractor had never used the material before, but after reading the product data sheet, I realized that a key component of the material being used was epoxy resin. It was a really a full circle experience for me, my knowledge from working with resin for art applied directly to the elastomeric concrete application. I was able to relay my knowledge about surface preparation, the components of the mixture, and the exothermic reaction that occurs to the contractor.

  • Is there a reason you are drawn to resin?

Engineering is extremely left-brained; it’s technical, strategic and practical. For the most part artwork is right-brained, it is imaginative, subjective and whimsical. I think part of the reason I am drawn to resin is because it allows me to use science in art. Epoxy has numerous technical factors such as mix ratios, temperature requirements, and air percentage. These factors allow the two-part solution to create a chemical reaction turning viscous materials into a solid compound. When working with resin, one of the most critical aspects is timing; after the mix of the two parts are complete, there is a window of approximately 45 minutes before the resin begins to solidify. The style of the piece, amount of air bubbles present, and viscosity of the resin varies every five minutes during that working time. The whole reaction is fascinating to me: There are so many elements you need to be precise with, but at the same time, certain aspects such as the white waves added into ocean pieces are left up to chance based on how the resin flows. For me, it’s a perfect balance of the right and left sides of my brain.

Engineering and art both offer precision and creativity, though they manifest in different end aesthetics and purposes. With her passion for art and her appreciation of science, we see the overlap of these two practices through Kathryn. Find one of her online shops here –