How did PFAS contaminants end up in our groundwater?
Some of the perfluoroalkyl acids are mobile, persistent, and bio-accumulative, and are not known to degrade in the environment.
The environmental and health effects of PFAS are undeniable. Due to its resistance to heat, and its affinity for water and oil, PFAS can be found in numerous industrial applications and everyday products. These range from rainwear and food packaging to firefighting foam and other applications. PFAS or Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances don’t degrade in the environment. Past 50 years of PFAS usage have led to its worldwide omnipresence. PFAS can even be found in natural drinking water resources.
Understanding the behavior of PFAS in groundwater, therefore, is identified as a key challenge in developing better knowledge about the distribution of these chemicals.
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“Due to the mobility and persistence of PFAS in soil and groundwater, PFAS are expected to entail larger plumes than other contaminants in the same hydrogeological setting.”
International partners in crime to fight the diffuse of PFAS pollution
Together with Cyclopure (US) and SGS Belgium, iFLUX has developed a state-of-the-art solution to capture and recover PFAS compounds from groundwater for further analysis.
Following an extensive study- and validation cycle, the iFLUX PFAS cartridge is launched. This is a passive sampling device. It can be used to directly monitor the fate and transport of PFAS in groundwater.
Combining Cyclopure’s DEXSORB® and SGS’ analytical expertise with iFLUX’s monitoring technology and devices, makes it possible to monitor the mobility and mass flux of a set of 12 PFAS components (including PFOA and PFOS). Later versions will be designed to expand this set to 30 PFAS elements (including GenX).
iFLUX (www.ifluxsampling.com) safeguards our environment with patented technology that captures the dynamics of the subsurface. They do this by measuring groundwater and contaminant fluxes for environmental consultants and authorities. These type of measurements quantify the amount of underground pollution, the speed with which it is spreading and the direction in which it moves. This type of information reduces uncertainty and improves remediation projects.
Flux measurements deliver essential information before, during and after the soil contamination management process. Now this is also possible for the emerging PFAS contaminants.
Cyclopure (www.cyclopure.com) is a leading innovator in water purification technologies. They have developed cyclodextrin-based DEXSORB® for the capture and removal of microtoxins from groundwater and other water sources. The DEXSORB® adsorbents are sustainably made and can quickly and safely remove hundreds of micropollutants from water including short and long chain PFAS chemicals. Easy elution and recovery of contaminants from the media for laboratory quantification makes the use of DEXSORB® ideal for the iFLUX system.
SGS (https://www.sgs.be/) is a global leader in laboratory testing, with proven expertise in reliable, high quality environmental measurement and analysis. This makes SGS an ideal partner for accurate compliance in PFAS and emerging contaminants analysis.
PFAS analysis, in all environmental matrices, is in urgent demand around the globe. SGS provides a laboratory with the expertise and the instrumentation in place to do high quality tests in a timely manner.
What are PFAS and why are they emerging contaminants?
Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are also known as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). They are classified as emerging environmental contaminants based on increasing regulatory interest, potential risk to human health and environment, and evolving regulatory standards.
PFAS, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoro octane sulfonic acid (PFOS), are a class of fluorinated chemicals used in many industrial and consumer products. They are mainly used for their surface active properties, for example in cookware, textiles, firefighting foams, metal plating, semi-conductors, paper and packaging, coating additives, cleaning products and pesticides.
Because they contain very strong carbon-fluorine bonds, they almost don’t break down in the environment. That’s how they got the name ‘forever chemicals’. Some are bioaccumulative.
One of the challenges with PFAS is how quickly they can spread in our groundwater. This makes their contamination hard to contain.
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 ITRC fact sheet: https://pfas-1.itrcweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/pfas_fact_sheet_fate_and_transport__3_16_18.pdf