Current Limitations and Outlook of Environmental Forensics PFOS, PFOA, and More

Current Limitations and Outlook of Environmental Forensics for PFOS, PFOA, and Related Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

As Roux Associates continues to monitor developments regarding PFAS and PFOS, Vice President and Principal Scientist Adam Love, Ph.D. and Senior Scientist Lydia Dorrance presented on these contaminants of concern at the AEHS 27th Annual International Conference on Soil, Water, Energy, and Air. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made contaminants that are detected throughout the environment, including in surface waters and groundwater. PFAS can enter the environment through diverse release pathways, including industrial point-sources, waste water treatment plant effluent, landfill leachate, former fire training areas and diffuse, non-point sources, as well as through in situ precursor compound degradation.

Increasing concern for the human and ecological health effects of these compounds has resulted an industry-wide phase-out of certain PFAS and the formulation of regulatory thresholds and advisory levels, including the recently enacted (May 2016) USEPA Health Advisory Level of 0.07 µg/L for the total concentration of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

While site investigation and characterization techniques of PFAS-contaminated surface water and groundwater are maturing, environmental forensic techniques to distinguish source, timing, and pathways are only now emerging. As with other chemicals of concern, structural fingerprinting, chemical ratio comparison, and isotopic methods have a potential role towards PFAS forensics; however, challenges associated with PFAS site characterization and analysis may pose site-specific limitations that prevent the use of these tools.

Given the positive conference responses, Roux will offer this presentation as a webinar later this year. If you are interested in learning more about how these contaminants and associated substances relate to environmental forensics, please click on the button below.

Roux Associates