PFAS: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
In a world of emerging contaminants, PFAS have emerged as arguably the most prevalent and challenging when it comes to widespread impacts to air, soil, groundwater, surface water, sediment, and residential drinking water supplies. This group of approximately 4,000 man-made chemicals have been used since the 1940s in the production of thousands of products, including:
· Non‑stick cookware
· Waterproof and stain‑resistant fabrics
· Protective coatings
· Personal care products, such as shampoo, lip balm, and cosmetics
· Takeout food containers
· Electrical wiring
· Ski and car wax
· Petroleum products, and
· Class B firefighting foams.
Studies show that PFAS are becoming ubiquitous in the environment, and they have been found in the blood of human and animals worldwide. Given their use in so many products, our clients are discovering that PFAS are present at elevated concentrations in soil and groundwater at municipal landfills, fire stations, industrial facilities, parks, and neighborhoods where community members live, work, and play.
Given the low detection limits and regulatory standards associated with PFAS (in units of parts per trillion), it is critical that strict sample collection and handling protocols are followed by the field sampling teams to avoid biasing a sample result due to the cross‑contamination from an outside source. The Wilcox & Barton, Inc. field team takes these protocols very seriously, and the company has developed its own Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to further support guidance produced by NHDES and US EPA to further ensure that proper sampling procedures and sampling handling processes are followed on our clients' sites.
States throughout New England and the around country are actively proposing lower and lower groundwater standards for PFAS – extremely low values that increasing numbers of properties with PFAS impacts are likely to violate as more investigation is requested. This challenge requires an experienced and knowledgeable team of professionals who understand the sources, science, and protocols required to protect the interests of our valued stakeholders.