Validation of Streamlined Mobile Lab-Based Real Time PFAS Analytical Methods

Joseph Quinnan | Arcadis U.S., Inc.



The objective of this project is to demonstrate the utility of a mobile lab capable of providing near real-time analysis of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) consistent with the Department of Defense’s (DoD)’s Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) program under Quality Systems Manual (QSM) 5.1. The goal is to enable adaptive characterization and development of flux-based conceptual site models (CSMs). Real-time PFAS analysis using an ELAP certified mobile lab under United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Method 537/DoD QSM 5.1 can provide quantitative results for soil and groundwater sampling for the DoD target analyte list.

The specific objectives of this project are to demonstrate and validate application of:

  • an accelerated liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) method focusing on quantitation of a limited number of site specific PFAS compounds related to aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) (perfluorooctane sulfonate [PFOS], perfluorooctanoic acid [PFOA], perfluorohexane sulfonic acid [PFHxS], 8:2 fluorotelomer sulfonate [FTS], 6:2 FTS, and several other compounds based on site specific data) as indicators of PFAS plume distribution,
  • Methylene Blue Active Substances (MBAS) assay to evaluate relative amounts of total anionic PFAS and determine its utility as a qualitative (screening) site characterization technique and pre-LC/MS/MS screening tool to protect the instrumentation, and
  • systematic combination of methods to adaptively and accurately resolve PFAS impacts.

Success will be measured by the utility and reliability of the accelerated approach to accurately characterize PFAS impacts, enabling more rapid and complete characterization through the combination of quantitative, semi-quantitative, and screening tools.

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Technology Description

The demonstration technologies involve the application of an ELAP certified mobile lab, development and verification of an accelerated mobile lab method, and evaluation of a qualitative screening approach using MBAS with permeability profiling tools to develop a flux-based CSM at a fire training area. The accelerated lab method will use industry-standard analytical techniques and target an indicator list of PFASs, potentially doubling the capacity of the mobile lab to analyze soil and groundwater samples. In addition to comparing of the accuracy and reliability of the semi-quantitative and screening methods, the demonstration will provide a roadmap for combining the methods to rapidly and cost-effectively characterize PFAS sites.

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The DoD is beginning characterization of more than 2,000 AFFF release sites across the services. Conventional PFAS laboratory analysis is expensive and turn-around-times are too slow to enable adaptive site characterization, which can lead to rapid, accurate delineation of plumes and migration pathways. Application of dynamic, real-time methods consistent with the USEPA TRIAD approach lead to total life cycle cost reductions that are many multiples of the cost of characterization, by reducing the duration of investigation from decades to months or a few years, reducing permanent monitoring wells, and developing flux-based CSMs, which enable more reliable and focused restoration strategies. It is anticipated that the demonstration site can be used by DoD to pilot or demonstrate PFAS treatment technologies once the high-resolution site characterization is complete.

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Mr. Joseph Quinnan

Arcadis U.S., Inc.

Phone: 248-789-4951

Program Manager

Environmental Restoration