PFAS Signature™ Chemical Forensics
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) groundwater and soil contamination at impacted sites often cover large areas and may include multiple source areas.
Need to find the source of your PFAS contamination?
There is a need for a PFAS forensic approach - think of it as fingerprinting for PFAS - to understand where these substances originated for potential cleanup liabilities. Forensic techniques have been used for legacy contaminants (petroleum hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls) to identify the specific chemical signature of environmental samples from the contaminated sites, compared to their source signatures.
Battelle is developing a chemical forensic technique for PFAS source differentiation and tracking.
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Battelle's PFAS Signature™ Chemical Forensics is an approach for determining concentration and composition trends of PFAS from various contamination source scenarios.
This approach is being developed using high-resolution mass spectrometry techniques, in combination with PFAS-targeted analysis and advanced statistical analysis.
The identification of sources of contamination is based on:
- Chemical signatures
- Isomeric profiles
- Age of release
- Fate and transport
- Biotransformation products
By understanding the specific signature of these analytes in different matrices, we can deduce the information about their sources.
Example of PFAS Signature results showing samples collected from different environmental sources.
Example of PFAS Signature results showing samples collected from AFFFs from known and unknown manufacturing sources.
Battelle has built a mass spectral PFAS source library based on targeted analysis and high-resolution mass spectrometry analysis of different PFAS sources that can be applied to a site investigation to understand the source attribution.
Signature chemistries of different sources:
- Chemistry based on manufacturing process: Electrochemical fluorination and telomerization
- Isomeric profiles: Branched and linear isomers, odd and even chain lengths
- Biotransformation products/intermediates: Some of the fluorotelomer (FT) carboxylic acids and sulfonates
- Paper and food packaging: Side chain fluorinated polymers and polyfluoroalkyl phosphonic acids (PAPs/diPAPs)
- Textile and leather: Polymers and polymer raw materials
- Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF)-related: Anions, cations, zwitterions and neutrals
- Wastewater treatment and landfills: Biotransformation products, EtFOSA