Dr. Henry Nowicki, Ph.D., MBA
Dr. Henry Nowicki, Ph.D. and M.B.A., is President of PACS Testing, Consulting, and Training Services Inc. and Activated Carbon Services, and has been for over 24 years. Dr. Nowicki worked for Calgon, a major manufacturer of activated carbon and Envirotrol – a reactivator of used carbons, in the Pittsburgh, PA area before starting PACS.
The company provides public activated carbon testing, consulting and training services and serves as an expert in environmental sciences. Dr. Nowicki directs the company’s day-to-day testing and consulting services. He has provided expert witness services for a wide variety of some forty cases covering a wide variety of issues: industrial hygiene, drugs, environmental sciences, data quality, and activated carbon issues.
Under the direction of Dr. Nowicki, PACS has championed the development of new testing equipment and methods to evaluate activated carbons and environmental analytical test methods for water, soil and activated carbon samples. The company has been awarded eight R&D competitive government grants for new product developments for water and air purification.
Achieving his undergraduate degree at Southern Illinois University and obtaining a triple major in chemistry, biology, and math, Dr. Nowicki worked as an industrial chemist at Mallinchrodt before going to graduate school. At St. Louis University he obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry with a second major in organic chemistry. Using the first commercial mass spectrometer while serving as a graduate student, this has been a constant career pursuit. Dr. Nowicki provides courses and laboratory MS services.
Dr. Nowicki is an active member of four societies: American Chemical Society, Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh (SSP), Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP) and International Activated Carbon Conference. SSP and SACP are sister societies which sponsor the annual Pittsburgh Conference. He is also the chairperson for the International Activated Carbon Conference and short course program held every October in Pittsburgh, PA.
How did you get started in the water conditioning and purification marketplace? What was your first job in it?
My first serious and focused job on water purification was with Calgon Carbon Corporation (CCC), a subsidiary of Merck Sharpe and Dome at that time. My wife Barbara and I had just come back from working in Japan, where I operated a mass spectrometer to provide toxicology and illegal drug trafficking services for the US Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (US ACIL) at a base that was the Japanese equivalent of West Point.
Barbara taught elementary school while living on the US military base. I still remember having all of our oriental keepsakes loaded and ready to go to Atlanta, GA for a new job, then telling the commercial moving company to go to Pittsburgh, PA for our CCC job offer at the last minute.
I got started in personal protection for water purification when I visited India and the Taj Mahal. Few people in the tour group avoided major gastrointestinal problems. I avoided illness on the trip because I chlorinated all of the water I consumed. Additionally, I worked for the US Army Medical Laboratories in San Antonio, TX and St. Louis, MO as a practicing toxicologist, which entailed making water measurements.
How/why did you start/maintain your professional involvement?
I started my professional involvement at 19 as a laboratory technician when I was a sophomore chemistry major at Southern Illinois University. A high school friend’s father got me this job.
It was much better than my position carrying groceries at the local grocery store, as it showed me the practical side of chemistry. Fifty years later, I have never had a week without revenue generation from my professional involvements. There is no end in sight for professional involvement and weekly revenue generation.
What are you most proud of in your profession?
I am most proud of getting my two children through the university, both solely on my revenues from a short course titled Mass Spectral Interpretation. Both children are now in the marketplace of improving human health.
What are you least proud of in your profession?
I never dwell on the negatives of life or profession.
What gives you the most joy in your professional life?
Working with my wife and business partner on a daily basis to grow and expand our business. Our son has now joined the firm. The PACS business is much like our third child.
What do you dislike most in your professional life?
Again, I never dwell on the negatives. They are only small bumps in the road to our pleasures and positives in life.
If there were three portraits on the wall behind your desk, not of family, who would they be and why?
Professor Richard Smalley(deceased) was the Noble prize winner for buckeyballs. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Smalley and he accepted the Hall of Fame award for the International Activated Carbon Conference. His Nobel award stimulated many of us in the activated carbon industry.
Dr. John C. Polanyi is the original thinker behind the Gravimetric Rapid Pore Size Distribution (GRPD) instrument. PACS promotes GRPD as the best available activated carbon test method. We are planning an Internet celebration of the 1914 Polanyi Adsorption Potential Energy Adsorption Theory in 2014.
President John F. Kennedy would be one of my portraits, because he opened the door for my Ph.D. in organic-biochemistry at St. Louis University. When President Kennedy committed to putting a man on the moon, the door to advanced education was open to anyone with half of a brain. It was possible to leave an industrial job to attend the university without significant loss of revenue due to the many benefits and the Ph.D. degree.
If you were not in the water conditioning and purification industry, what would you be doing?
Eventually, retirement will bring consulting and teaching short courses.
Why would you do that?
I would consult and teach short courses to see and help people grow.
Polish up your crystal ball. . .what will be the three most important issues in our industry within the next five years?
The three most important issues may be endocrine disrupters, nanotechnology and new, unintended consequences.
Endocrine disrupters are compounds that act on human bodies, often in negative ways. The concentrations challenge our analytical measurements; they are extremely low and difficult to accurately measure at reasonable cost. Water purification specialists need to get them out of our drinking water supplies. This improved filter performance will need a new generation of filters, measurement capability and products certification programs.
Nanotechnology R&D is consuming billions and billions of taxpayer dollars with relatively little to show in the way of results. I expect that the water technology industry will join the nano bandwagon and show their products in light of nanotechnology. (These products work on a molecular scale and are thus nano.) Our water conditioning and purification industry has not adequately addressed nanotechnology in R&D thinking and marketing. I predict it will be happening in the near future.
Unintended consequences have long been the curse of scientific endeavors. For example, the use of DDT to kill insects caused a bio-accumulation phenomenon and thin-eggshell syndrome in predatory birds like the bald eagle. I expect we will have some unintended consequences in our water industry. With the present crippling of the US EPA oversight of new product entry and quality issues, this is the recipe for unintended negative consequences. China is an example; the environment is a sewer for pollutants, and this severe lack of quality programs is at the expense of their environment, with global pollution to other countries happening daily. Examples of recent Chinese problems are known by some who purchased milk and dog food with intentional toxic materials.