Thought Leader Webinar Series
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Development and Testing of an Analytical Method for Real Time Measurement of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), Dr. Rula Deeb, Geosyntec Consultants / Dr. Andy Eaton, Eurofins Eaton Analytical
Rula Deeb, Ph.D., BCEEM, PMP
Andy Eaton, PhD, BCES
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl and substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), were released to the environment at many federal and commercial facilities in the United States and elsewhere as a result of historical uses of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) to extinguish fuel-based fires. Due to the strength of their carbon-fluorine bonds, PFAS are persistent in the environment and difficult to remediate. Because a suite of these compounds has recently been the focus of regulatory attention, there is a growing need to characterize PFAS at groundwater impacted sites. Characterization data are needed to inform site-specific risk assessments and to guide the selection of appropriate remedial action/management approaches. The past decade of industry experience at hydrocarbon and chlorinated solvent sites has demonstrated that real time and high resolution site characterization is faster, more cost-effective and more sustainable compared with more traditional methods from a lifecycle perspective.
Current analytical methods for PFAS are fixed-lab based, expensive and require long turn-around times. The goal of this project is to develop a mobile unit capable of analyzing samples in real time in the field at a fraction of the cost required by a fixed laboratory. This technology is based on a published but relatively unknown analytical method. This presentation will describe the development and testing of a prototype mobile unit capable of analyzing PFAS samples in real time in the field.
The development of the method was based on refining and adapting an existing analytical method for the analysis of PFOA and PFOS. The testing phase was performed on samples collected from Cape Canaveral (Florida) and Barksdale Air Force Base (Louisiana). The results of the comparison of the analytical results using the real time analytical method with results using EPA methods are promising. This work is important for several reasons: (1) many AFFF-impacted sites have little to no existing monitoring wells and the extent of contamination is often unknown; (2) traditional approaches to install and sample wells using current analytical methods require a long turnaround time to receive the data; and, (3) this mobile unit, when deployed with DPT sampling, would facilitate rapid, high resolution characterization. Ongoing efforts to refine the method to reach lower detection limits and to expand the suite of PFAS that are detectable using the real-time measurement method will also be discussed.