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What are PFAS?

PFAS Sampling in Drinking Water

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a large class of fluorinated manmade compounds, that do not occur naturally in the environment. They were first introduced in the early 1940’s, and were manufactured for their excellent thermal stability and resistance to water and oil. PFAS have been used in the Aerospace, Automotive, Chemical, Electronics, Metal Coatings and Plating, and Textiles industry in a myriad of products including fire-fighting foams, stain- and water-repellant textiles and carpets, non-stick products (e.g. Teflon™), food packing, and fume suppressants in metal plating operations. The PFAS class of chemicals includes, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), the two most prominent PFAS which are no longer manufactured or imported into the United States, replacement compounds including GenX and ADONA, and many others.  

Why are PFAS an Issue?

PFAS present significant challenges in the environment because of their persistence in the environment and high mobility in groundwater and the subsurface, impacting surface water, groundwater, and soil. PFAS have been detected at many manufacturing facilities, military installation, airports, fire-fighting training facilities, landfills, and wastewater treatment plants. Before now, analytical capabilities were limited, not allowing for proper analysis. Only within the last 15 years, have commercially-available measurement techniques become available, such as liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), allowing for parts per trillion (ppt) detection levels.

How Can EEC Help?

EEC has extensive experience in dealing with emerging contaminants, such as PFAS, and the challenges they bring. Over the years, EEC has successfully helped its clients deal with emerging contaminants, such as hexavalent chromium, 1,4-dioxne, and perchlorate, and has developed comprehensive cost-effective site investigation and remedial solutions. With the evolving nature of emerging contaminant issues, EEC remains at the forefront by keeping up to date with current regulatory issues, such as the development of health advisory/notification levels and testing for PFAS in drinking water, issuance of investigative orders for corrective action and site investigation, and development of testing protocols in drinking water and groundwater.

In May 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued a lifetime health advisory for PFOS and PFOA for drinking water of 70 parts per trillion (ppt), advising municipalities that they should notify their customers of the presence of levels over 70 ppt in community water supplies.  Since then, several states have established their own notification levels, such as the California Water Board Division of Drinking Water (DDW) which established notification levels of 13 ppt for PFOS and 14 ppt for PFOA, and a single health advisory response level of 70 ppt, for both PFOS and PFOA combined.

EEC is committed to assisting its clients with potential upcoming issues with PFAS. Whether it’s groundwater, surface water, or drinking water sampling; or developing the best treatment approach for cleanup, EEC’s team of highly experienced scientists, geologists, and engineers have the capability to address the emerging issues revolving around PFAS.

EEC’s Services for PFAS:

  • Subsurface Investigation and Sampling of Soil, Soil vapor, and Groundwater
  • Historical Research and Source Identification
  • Plume Evaluation and Modeling
  • Remedial Design and Treatment of Soil, Soil Vapor, and Groundwater
  • Industrial Wastewater Treatment
  • Production Water Treatment
  • Installation of Remediation Systems

Talk to an expert


California State Water Resources Control Board

Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/pfas/

13267 Investigatory Orders: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinking_water/certlic/drinkingwater/documents/pfos_and_pfoa/pfas_consolidated_training_040319.pdf


Airports: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/pfas/docs/airport_pfas_13267_go_03202019.pdf

Landfills: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/pfas/docs/landfill_pfas_13267_go_03202019.pdf

Water Systems: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinking_water/certlic/drinkingwater/documents/pfos_and_pfoa/pfas_watersystemorders.pdf

Sampling Guidance: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinking_water/certlic/drinkingwater/documents/pfos_and_pfoa/ddw_pfas_sampling_guidance_4_8_19.pdf

United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): https://www.epa.gov/pfas

Interstate Technology Regulatory Council

PFAS Treatment Technologies: https://pfas-1.itrcweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/pfas_fact_sheet_remediation_3_15_18.pdf