PFAS as an Emerging Class of Contaminants in the Environment
PFAS or 'Perfluorinated Alkylated Substances' are a group of synthetic compounds that have been produced commercially since the 1950s. PFAS were widely used in a variety of consumer goods, from waterproof clothing to non-stick kitchenware in order to make goods stain and stick resistant. PFAS have also been widely used in industrial products, particularly in Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFFs) for firefighting.
While these chemicals may no longer be produced, PFAS and related compounds may still be found in imported products or as part of old stock still in use.
Australia currently does not have national regulations that provide guidance on the management of PFAS contamination. However, guideline limits are close to being finalised and therefore PFAS analysis is of significant relevance to many contaminated sites.
Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) are two compounds that attract particular attention. PFOS and PFOA are a concern because they do not decompose easily - i.e., they are very persistent in the environment. They can bio-accumulate or ‘build up’ in some living organisms and can contaminate air, water and soil. Precursor compounds can also lead to the formation of PFAS e.g. perfluoroalkyl sulfonamides. Therefore, analysis of said compounds can be very informative in identifying the potential for PFOS/PFOA contamination.
Testing for PFAS at Envirolab
Envirolab has expertise in analysing the presence of PFAS by combining liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The LC-MS/MS technology provides a fast and accurate method for detecting PFAS from a variety of samples including: