Comprehensive Profiling of PFASs in Environmental Waters: Analytical Method Implementation and Preliminary Monitoring Results

Highlights of SERDP- and ESTCP-Funded Projects
Oral Presentation

Prepared by , G. Munoz

Contact Information:; 514-343-6749


Aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have been used in fire emergency response and fire equipment testing activities, posing many challenges to risk assessment and environmental restauration at contaminated sites. Recent discoveries of newly identified fluorosurfactants in AFFF formulations and sites impacted by the latter indicates that monitoring solely the perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) may not be sufficient. Many of the non-regulated PFASs may in fact be transformed to PFAAs through natural or engineered processes. The list of PFASs monitored by standardized methodology was recently expanded to include the fluorotelomer sulfonates, precursors that are often prevalent at AFFF-impacted sites. Whether the pre-existing methods could reliably capture a wider breadth of anionic, cationic, and zwitterionic PFASs derived from AFFFs remains, however, an open question. In this study, we investigated suitable sample preparation methodologies of 49 AFFF-derived PFASs in environmental water samples. Following extraction, the samples are submitted to ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography Orbitrap mass spectrometry (UHPLC-HRMS). The impact of matrix type on recoveries is investigated, and implications for surrogate and performance internal standard usage are discussed. The method applicability is demonstrated through the analysis of contaminated surface water samples from an active firefighting training area in Canada. We also demonstrate the method suitability to background samples, using surface water samples from the St. Lawrence River as a case-study. Several of the PFASs present were also detected in tap water produced from the river.