What are PFAS?

PFAS is shorthand for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. This class of more than 4,000 chemical compounds has been widely used to make many products stain-resistant, waterproof and/or nonstick, such as:

  • firefighting foam
  • cookware
  • furniture and carpets
  • shoes, clothing, mattresses
  • cosmetics
  • food packaging

PFAS don’t break down easily and can persist in the environment for decades. They have been found in water, soil, and the blood of people and animals all over the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 95 percent of the U.S. population now has PFAS in their bodies ….. Read More

Where is the PFAS contamination in my water coming from?

The non-stick qualities of PFAS make them inherently slippery, allowing these chemicals to travel significant distances through soils and groundwater. It is often important to determine not just which PFAS chemicals need to be treated, but also where they are coming from. For instance, you may need to know whether the source of the PFAS in your water is leaching out of a landfill or the result of firefighting foam.

We can test drinking water for PFAS—and that’s just the beginning.

Since you can’t see, taste, or smell PFAS, the only way to know if water is safe to drink is to have it tested by a certified laboratory. And once you understand which PFAS compounds are in your water, you’ll need expert advice about an effective treatment plan to remove those specific contaminants.

Our scientists have extensive knowledge about the development of PFAS and decades of experience conducting environmental analysis of many chemical Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs).

Based on what we find in YOUR water, we’ll also give you expert advice about an effective treatment plan. The customized report you receive from us will include recommendations for the appropriate filtering medium and treatment process — as well as the frequency you’ll need to change out your filters — that will create consistently safe drinking levels.

We have the ability to perform detailed chemical forensics on drinking water, wastewater, groundwater, surface water, soil, and sediment. Our services include PFAS source tracking analysis for both targeted and non-targeted testing.

We offer a convenient, all-in-one resource of PFAS solutions and expertise, including:

  • Testing for drinking water, wastewater, groundwater, or surface water
  • Analysis for hundreds of different PFAS compounds
  • Source tracking in soil and sediments
  • Effective treatment plans for PFAS removal

No other PFAS testing company offers all of these services under one roof. The combined capability to detect hundreds of PFAS compounds and provide expert advice on removal, as well as researching how to destroy these chemicals, makes us unique.

We can serve anyone concerned with PFAS:

  • water utilities
  • chemical and agricultural industries
  • state and local authorities
  • environmental engineering companies
  • private well owners
  • individual consumers

For our local Delaware clients, we can also offer a rapid two-week turnaround time on drinking water test results.

We bring a customer-oriented problem solving approach to everything we do. Our goal is your peace of mind. We will work with you to identify which PFAS contaminants you have and then provide a clear plan on the steps you need to take to safely remove them.

Questions? We have answers.

Fill out this form or send us an email and we’ll get back to you promptly.

Contact us at [email protected]

Laboratory Facilities

Our state-of-the-art laboratory in Delaware can provide comprehensive detection and customized expert guidance for the removal of PFAS from your water, all under one roof.

Our scientists have decades of experience conducting environmental analysis, and managing chemical laboratories to GLP and ISO standards. In particular, we have extensive knowledge of the history of PFAS, their chemistries and applications, and they way PFAS behave in various environments.

Our newly-acquired instrument is the most advanced model of liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). We have the ability to test PFAS in water, soil, plant, and animal tissues and many other media. Our state-of-the-art equipment can detect part per trillion levels of  hundreds of PFAS compounds in a single analysis. This gives our clients the capabilities to meet current and future state and federal health advisory levels, as they expand to include an increasing number of PFAS compounds at lower and lower levels.

Our Rapid Small Scale Column Test (RSSCT) equipment gives us the capability to assess filter media such as Granular Activated Carbon and other such products for their ability to remove PFAS from drinking water. We are one of the only laboratories in the United States offering this combined service of both PFAS testing and customized advice on the PFAS drinking water treatment technology.

No Surprises — Predicting and comparing the performance of filter media

The Rapid Small Scale Column Test (RSSCT) rig is a small-scale model of commercial scale PFAS filter towers. RSSCT rig can be used to predict and compare the performance for filter media such as Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) and Ion Exchange Resins.

RSSCT service offers those clients who need it advice on what filter medium to choose and how often to change the filter media. Water utilities that already have filter towers can use our service to know when they need to change the filter medium, if and when the source water changes, and be prepared for the costs of refreshing them.

PFAS Services

Testing for PFAS in drinking water, wastewater, groundwater, surface water, soil, and sediment

  • Analysis of PFAS using Method 537.1

We offer drinking water tests using EPA Method 537 which was first published in 2008 to determine 14 different PFAS. In 2018, the method was updated to include 4 more PFAS, including the GenX chemical hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA).

  • Analysis of Short-Chain PFAS using Method 533

EPA developed and validated EPA Method 533 to target “short chain” PFAS (none greater than C12), including perfluorinated acids, sulfonates, fluorotelomers, and poly/perfluorinated ether carboxylic acids. Many of these could not be analyzed using 537.1 due to physicochemical properties. In December 2019, EPA published Method 533, which includes a total of 25 PFAS (14 of the 18 PFAS in 537.1 plus an additional 11 “short chain” PFAS) and specifies isotope dilution quantitation.

  • Non-Potable Water Analysis of PFAS using SW-846 Method 8327

EPA developed SW-846 Method 8327, for analysis of 24 PFAS in non-potable water (not of drinking quality).

  • Soil samples contaminated with PFAS. ASTM D7979-17

This method developed by the U.S. EPA Region 5 Chicago Regional Laboratory, is an LC-MS-MS method specific for PFAS in soil. Soil samples are prepared for analysis with solvent extraction prior to analysis.

Testing PFAS filter media using RSSCT

We offer laboratory testing of different filter media using rapid small-scale column testing (RSSCT) to evaluate, identify, and reduce PFAS in source water. Our RSSCT service, offered to both small clients such as private well owners as well as to larger entities such as water utilities, will include guidance about comparing different filter media.

  • D6586 − 03 Standard Practice for the Prediction of Contaminant Adsorption On GAC In Aqueous Systems Using Rapid Small-Scale Column Tests

This practice covers a test method for the evaluation of granular activated carbon (GAC) for the adsorption of soluble pollutants from water. It can be used to estimate the operating capacities of virgin and reactivated granular activated carbons. The results obtained from the small-scale column testing can be used to predict the adsorption of target compounds on GAC in a large column or full scale adsorber application.

PFAS Research & Development

Developing New Analytical Methods for detecting and removing PFAS

Analytical methods are still evolving for the detection of the thousands of PFAS chemicals. Currently, there are defined, or “targeted” analytical methods for approximately two dozen PFAS compounds in specific environmental matrices such as water, soil, sludges, and sediment. However, there are thousands of known PFAS chemicals, including degradants and metabolites, most for which we know little or nothing about the risks they pose to human health or the environment.

We are undertaking research to expand the range of PFAS compounds that can be identified and quantified. Our scientists have also developed and published methods for diverse, non-environmental matrices such as multiple consumer products and biological samples. For example, food is thought to be an important source of PFAS to human exposure, but this area remains mostly untouched to date due to the difficulty of analysis.

Current filter media do not seem to be capable of removing all PFAS types cost-effectively. We have begun collaborating with companies to develop and commercialize new filter technologies through our RSSCT program.

Once PFAS are removed from water supplies or waste streams, a separate process is generally required to safely and effectively destroy the compounds. In partnership with academic institutions, we are  investigating alternatives to incineration for accomplishing this ultimate remediation and decomposition.

PFAS Compounds

Partial list of PFAS compounds we can test for:

  • Perfluorobutanoic Acid (PFBA)
  • Perfluoropentanoic Acid (PFPeA)
  • 4:2 Fluorotelomer Sulfonic Acid (4:2 FTSA)
  • Perfluorohexanoic Acid (PFHxA)
  • Perfluorobutane Sulfonic Acid (PFBS)
  • Perfluoroheptanoic Acid (PFHpA)
  • Perfluoropentane Sulfonic Acid (PFPeS)
  • 6:2 Fluorotelomer Sulfonic Acid (6:2 FTSA)
  • Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)
  • Perfluorohexane Sulfonic Acid (PFHxS)
  • Perfluorohexane Sulfonic Acid – Linear (PFHxS-LN)
  • Perfluorohexane Sulfonic Acid – Branched (PFHxS-BR)
  • Perfluorononanoic Acid (PFNA)
  • 8:2 Fluorotelomer Sulfonic Acid (8:2 FTSA)
  • Perfluoroheptane Sulfonic Acid (PFHpS)
  • Perfluorodecanoic Acid (PFDA)
  • N-Methyl Perfluorooctane Sulfonamidoacetic Acid (N-MeFOSAA)
  • N-Ethyl Perfluorooctane Sulfonamidoacetic Acid (EtFOSAA)
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS)
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid – Linear (PFOS-LN)
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid – Branched (PFOS-BR)
  • Perfluoroundecanoic Acid (PFUnDA)
  • Perfluorononane Sulfonic Acid (PFNS)
  • Perfluorododecanoic Acid (PFDoDA)
  • Perfluorodecane Sulfonic Acid (PFDS)
  • Perfluorotridecanoic Acid (PFTrDA)
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonamide (FOSA)
  • Perfluorotetradecanoic Acid (PFTeDA)
  • Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA)
  • 11-chloroeicosafluoro-3-oxaundecane-1-sulfonic acid (11Cl-PF3OUds)
  • 9-chlorohexadecafluoro-3-oxanone-1-sulfonic acid (9Cl-PF3ONS)
  • 4,8-dioxa-3H-perfluorononanoic acid (ADONA)

Compounds that are analyzed using EPA 537 Rev. 1.1 for drinking water:

  • Perfluorohexanoic Acid (PFHxA)
  • Perfluorobutane Sulfonic Acid (PFBS)
  • Perfluoroheptanoic Acid (PFHpA)
  • Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)
  • Perfluorohexane Sulfonic Acid (PFHxS)
  • Perfluorohexane Sulfonic Acid – Linear (PFHxS-LN)
  • Perfluorohexane Sulfonic Acid – Branched (PFHxS-BR)
  • Perfluorononanoic Acid (PFNA)
  • Perfluorodecanoic Acid (PFDA)
  • N-Methyl Perfluorooctane Sulfonamidoacetic Acid (N-MeFOSAA)
  • N-Ethyl Perfluorooctane Sulfonamidoacetic Acid (EtFOSAA)
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS)
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid – Linear (PFOS-LN)
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid – Branched (PFOS-BR)
  • Perfluoroundecanoic Acid (PFUnDA)
  • Perfluorododecanoic Acid (PFDoDA)
  • Perfluorotridecanoic Acid (PFTrDA)
  • Perfluorotetradecanoic Acid (PFTeDA)

PFAS compounds that are analyzed by EPA 537.1 for drinking water:

  • Perfluorohexanoic Acid (PFHxA)
  • Perfluorobutane Sulfonic Acid (PFBS)
  • Perfluoroheptanoic Acid (PFHpA)
  • Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)
  • Perfluorohexane Sulfonic Acid (PFHxS)
  • Perfluorohexane Sulfonic Acid – Linear (PFHxS-LN)
  • Perfluorohexane Sulfonic Acid – Branched (PFHxS-BR)
  • Perfluorononanoic Acid (PFNA)
  • Perfluorodecanoic Acid (PFDA)
  • N-Methyl Perfluorooctane Sulfonamidoacetic Acid (N-MeFOSAA)
  • N-Ethyl Perfluorooctane Sulfonamidoacetic Acid (EtFOSAA)
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS)
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid – Linear (PFOS-LN)
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid – Branched (PFOS-BR)
  • Perfluoroundecanoic Acid (PFUnDA)
  • Perfluorododecanoic Acid (PFDoDA)
  • Perfluorotridecanoic Acid (PFTrDA)
  • Perfluorotetradecanoic Acid (PFTeDA)
  • Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA)
  • 11-chloroeicosafluoro-3-oxaundecane-1-sulfonic acid (11Cl-PF3OUds)
  • 9-chlorohexadecafluoro-3-oxanone-1-sulfonic acid (9Cl-PF3ONS)
  • 4,8-dioxa-3H-perfluorononanoic acid (ADONA)

About

The Center for PFAS Solutions was launched in 2019 by the Science, Technology & Research Institute of Delaware (STRIDE), a Delaware not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation. The mission of STRIDE is to contribute to the economic development of the State of Delaware by growing science-based businesses and scientific talent.

PFAS Management Team

Our team of scientists and industry experts have decades of experience in analytical services, environmental problem solving, and fundamental research.

Seetha Coleman-Kammula, PhD
President

Seetha, one of the co-founder of the center  is a serial entrepreneur and a former Senior Vice President of Basell, a Royal Dutch Shell and BASF joint venture. She started as a research scientist in Amsterdam and held diverse positions in 4 countries managing R&D, strategy and business units. After retiring from Shell she served on Dow Chemical company’s sustainability external advisory board and founded Simply Sustain LLC, a management consulting company in sustainability. She currently leads the Center for PFAS Solutions. More. 

 

Charles R. Powley, PhD
Chief Scientist

Charles has deep expertise in analysis of PFAS chemicals using targeted and non-targeted methods and developing new analytical methods for identifying and measuring PFAS chemicals in all types of water, soil, sludge, plants, and animal tissues. He has published highly cited research articles in peer-reviewed journals that have become the basis for many PFAS environmental methods and is highly sought after in this area. More. 

 

Brian Coleman, PhD
Quality Director

Brian started his professional career with a PhD in organic chemistry working for Royal Dutch Shell in an analytical department analyzing polymers and trace components in reaction mixtures. He led numerous joint research projects for Shell with third parties. He became head of quality in a new technical service lab and trained as an ISO 9001 quality auditor. Since retiring from Shell, Brian has been active in several startup companies.

Resources & Links

What Are PFAS, continued

PFAS are a family of human-made chemicals that have been used for decades to make non-stick products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. The older PFAS compounds, sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals,” are extremely stable and do not break down in the environment. Common uses of PFAS include 1) nonstick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, 2) coatings on food packaging (especially microwave popcorn bags and fast food wrappers), 3) components of fire-fighting foam, and 4) many industrial applications.

In recent years, analytical methods and the instruments used to detect PFAS in the environment have evolved. Two decades ago, only a few PFAS could be detected and measured. The science in the past also suggested that exposure to very small amounts of PFAS were not a health concern. We are now able to measure extremely small amounts of a number of PFAS, and newer studies suggest that long-term exposure to PFAS even in this range may affect vulnerable members of the population.

Health Concerns

Because PFAS are very stable, they have been found in soil, sediments, water and other environmental compartments. Studies show some PFAS travel through soil and easily enter groundwater, where they may move long distances. Some experts suggest PFAS also disburse widely in air, either through evaporation or sublimation.

PFAS have been released to the environment through industrial spills and disposal. PFAS compounds are now found in many species of wildlife around the world, including bald eagles, and mink in the mid-western United States and polar bears in remote areas of the Arctic. PFOS is a specific PFAS that can accumulate to levels of concern in fish.

Studies show nearly all people have some PFAS in their blood, regardless of their age. The PFAS most commonly found in human blood are PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS, and PFNA. People are exposed through food, water, dust, or consumer products. Some PFAS can build up and stay in the human body for many years. They can also slowly decline if the exposure stops.

Scientists are actively studying whether PFAS cause health problems in people. Researchers have found links between PFAS and certain human health outcomes. In some studies, higher levels of PFAS in a person’s body were associated with higher cholesterol, changes to liver function, reduced immune response, thyroid disease, and increased kidney and testicular cancer. There are many different PFAS, and health effects are expected to be slightly different for each PFAS compound in the PFAS family.

Studies in animals have shown some health effects such as changes in developmental, liver and thyroid function, decreased immune response, and increased kidney weight and cellular changes. Increased tumor growth was also observed in certain organs in animals exposed to very high doses of PFOA.

Research continues on PFAS and health effects such as birth outcomes, hormone balance, cholesterol levels, immune response, and carcinogenicity. While it is believed that the acute health risks for people exposed to sub part-per-billion PFAS are low, we do not yet have adequate information about chronic toxicity at these low levels. In addition, the latest information indicates that fetuses and infants are more vulnerable to even low levels of PFAS.

PFAS are not the only Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs). Other examples of CECs include pharmaceuticals and personal care products, microbeads and microplastics, flame retardants, and endocrine disrupting chemicals. These chemicals and materials are being detected with increasing frequency in all environmental media including surface water, groundwater, and drinking water. Some of these compounds are impacting aquatic life and can bioaccumulate in humans. Sources of these pollutants include agriculture, urban runoff, ordinary household products (such as soaps and disinfectants), and pharmaceuticals that are disposed to sewage treatment plants and subsequently discharged to surface waters.

Center for PFAS Solutions

[email protected]

272 Quigley Boulevard  •  New Castle, Delaware 19720  •  302-981-5841

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