PFAS and Aqueous Film-Forming Foams: An Ongoing Challenge for the Petrochemical Industry

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are an emerging class of contaminants due to ubiquitous use, environmental persistence, and the bioaccumulation and toxicity of select PFAS including PFOS and PFOA. While aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) are of critical importance in firefighting and safety in the petrochemical industry and airports, AFFF containing PFOS/PFOA have resulted in widespread contamination at hundreds of sites in North America. Consequently, PFOS/related chemistry is being replaced by less toxic short-chain alternatives and fluorine-free foams. However, the safe disposal of legacy products at sites, and the confidence that replacement products will not result in further contamination issues down the line require robust and reliable tests for residual PFAS of concern in the foams. In this presentation, we detail a sensitive isotope dilution LC-MS/MS approach for the measurement of PFOA, PFOS, and 27 other PFAS in AFFF foams. We developed and validated this method in collaboration with the Firefighting Foam Coalition (FFFC) and US Department of Defense. We present sampling recommendations and information on current and upcoming international regulation. Finally, we provide recommendations for non-target analysis to look for “dark matter” PFAS that can result in future contamination liability.

Primary Author / Conference Presenter:
Dr. Bharat Chandramouli
Product Manager and Senior Scientist
Sidney, British Columbia, Canada

Million Woudneh, Sr. Development Scientist, SGS AXYS
Coreen Hamilton, Sr. Scientist, SGS AXYS