PFAS is short for “poly and perfluoroalkyl substances”. You likely encounter it regularly, maybe multiple times a day. You might even consume it. PFAS, a class of more than 4,000 different chemicals, is everywhere. It turns up in everything from household items to fast food wrappers. It has even been found in our blood. And new research published this week by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), shows it is prevalent in tap water as well. PFAS are break-down compounds most commonly from Teflon coated materials that provide stain-proofing, water proofing, and other commercial and industrial items. Certain PFAS compounds, like PFOA and PFOS have been suspected to be health hazards to humans at low levels. EPA has clean-up standards for groundwater at Military and DOE sites as 70 ppb for these to compounds. The common source of PFAs at Military bases if from Fire-fighting Foam (FFF) used in fire training exercises. PFAS are known as the “forever chemicals” as they are not biodegraded or attenuated/absorbed in groundwater and surface water. They are also bio-accumulated and have been found in the aquatic and land food-chain.
Many industries have, and are using, PFAS containing materials– (it is even in Sticky memo pads)! The waste industry is concerned as studies at 38 landfills have shown that landfill leachate contains PFAS. Wastewater plants that receive leachate, and other industrial and human sewage, have found PFAS in the sludge produced at high parts per billion. Landfill companies are reluctant to keep taking these sludges. Wastewater plants, which cannot treat PFAS, do not want to not accept leachate and other industrial wastewater.
PFAS experts can provide an initial audit of the materials that the company is handling and manufacturing, especially materials in their waste and wastewater. Since the potential liability may be elevated when EPA adopts Federal drinking water standards for certain PFAS compounds and lists them as hazardous/toxic constituents, having this expertise is crucial. If a company has a PFAS waste stream or has contaminated soil/groundwater or air with PFAS, the experts can provide an environmental assessment and remediation recommendations for the most cost-effective solution.
PFAS experts should have several years’ experience in evaluating environmental impacts/assessments of PFAS in soil, groundwater, water and air and have knowledge about specific sampling and analytical methods as PFAS requires specific and special sampling and analytical methods to get valid data to 1-2 PPT.
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