As a Professor in Mineral Engineering at UC Berkeley, David Sedlak's research focuses on the fate of chemical contaminants, with the long-term goal of developing cost-effective, safe, and sustainable systems to manage water resources. He is particularly interested in the development of local sources of water. He began his research on the fate of wastewater-derived contaminants in 1996 when he developed simple methods for measuring steroid hormones in wastewater. Since that time, he and his students have studied the fate of hormones, pharmaceuticals, toxic disinfection byproducts and other chemicals. His research has addressed water reuse as well as the treatment and use of urban runoff to contaminated groundwater form contaminated industrial sites as water supplies.
Sedlak is the author of Water 4.0, a book that examines the ways in which we can gain insight into current water issues by understanding the history of urban water systems.