News & Events

NEWMOA Northeast PFAS Science Conference: Public Health and the Environment Conference

At a Glance

Sheraton Framingham Hotel & Conference Center, Framingham, MA

Rich Desrosiers, PG, LEP will participate in a panel for "Fate & Transport Processes, Part 2" (3/31 at 2:00 pm) and Karen Kinsella, PhD will be on a panel for "Biosolids, Sediments, Residuals, Compost & Wastewater - Current Data & Science" (4/1 at 9:30 am at the NEWMOA Northeast Science of PFAS: Public Health And The Environment Conference. Matt Bergen will also present the poster "Pilot Study to Assess Sampling for PFAS using Existing Teflon Sampling Equipment" at the conference, featuring the work of himself and Tanya Justham. Their abstracts are provided below.

Fate & Transport Processes: Assessing Upgradient PFAS Vulnerability 
to Water Supplies

Water supplies can be impacted by the ubiquitous nature of PFAS because it has many pathways in which it can enter the environment. The understanding of these environmental pathways is critical because one of the primary human health exposure routes is the ingestion of water. Some of these pathways include atmospheric deposition, discharges from:

  1. waste-water treatment facilities
  2. industrial activities
  3.  leaching fields
  4. landfills and releases from fire-fighting foams.

These water resources (reservoirs and groundwater extraction) are dependent on the water quality within the immediate and upgradient watershed. This presentation will look at how these environmental PFAS pathway could influence a water supply; especially, since PFAS is not degraded in the environment and the associated risk management measures needed to protect these watersheds.       


Bioaccumulation and Biomagnification of PFAS in Sediments

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are organic chemicals which are emerging contaminants: chemicals which have previously not been considered a risk to humans or the environment. PFAS include thousands of different chemicals with diverse, useful properties due to the unique chemistry of their strong, stable carbon-fluorine bonds. Some types of PFAS are persistent in the environment and can bioaccumulate in living organisms. This presentation will provide a brief overview of our current knowledge regarding bioavailability, uptake, bioaccumulation, and biomagnification of PFAS in sediments, summarize what is known about sediment PFAS, and provide references relating to: 

  • Partitioning between sediment and water, and sediment accumulation; 
  • Bioconcentration factors and biota-sediment accumulation factors; and 
  • Trophic transfer and magnification: the cumulative risk of sediment PFAS bioconcentration.

Understanding site-specific risk assessment needs first requires researchers to identify which PFAS to investigate. Currently, the choice is driven by (1) preliminary studies of human and ecological health risks and (2) the availability of calibration standards for instrumental analysis. Some of the sediment risk assessment activities that are needed to inform additional research include: 

  • Identifying the physical and geochemical factors affecting sediment bioavailability of different types of PFAS;
  • Understanding the relationship between bioavailability, uptake, bioaccumulation, and biomagnification and PFAS chain length, functional groups, and degree of fluorination; 
  • Determining the rate and extent of PFAS uptake from sediments by lower-trophic level organisms; 
  • Understanding the uptake and excretion rates of PFAS by different organisms, including competitive uptake and selective bioaccumulation at different trophic levels; 
  • Understanding the biotransformation of polyfluoroalkyl substances to perfluoroalkyl substances; and
  • Assessing preferential PFAS distribution throughout a food web.
Pilot Study to Assess Sampling for PFAS using Existing Teflon Sampling Equipment

The main contaminant of concern for the Troy Mills Landfill Superfund (Troy) is bis-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP).  DEHP is a common constituent in many plastics and may also adhere to plastics; therefore, Teflon sampling equipment is often used to provide the best sampling results for this contaminant.  Monitoring wells at Troy are generally outfitted with bladder pumps containing Teflon bladders and Teflon lined-tubing.  When per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) screening was planned for the Site during 2018, GZA and NHDES designed a field study to assess the use of Site sampling equipment for the collection of both DEHP and PFAS.  

GZA removed the dedicated QED T-1250 bladder pump from one of the site monitoring wells, drained the pump and associated tubing, and rinsed the exterior with laboratory supplied, PFAS-free deionized (DI) water.  The pump, along with the dedicated fittings and sample tubing, were inserted into a 2-inch diameter polyvinyl chloride (PVC) riser that was capped at the bottom.  The PVC riser was filled with PFAS-free DI water and approximately three pump and tubing volumes were purged from the PVC riser through the bladder pump.  After the purge, the pump and riser were drained and refilled with fresh DI water.  A water sample was collected through the bladder pump and submitted to Alpha Analytical of Mansfield, Massachusetts for analysis of PFAS by EPA Method 537(M) with isotope dilution.  PFAS was not detected above the reporting limit for any of the 24 PFAS analytes.  Based on the results of the sample collection assessment, PFAS samples were collected directly from the selected monitoring wells using the installed sampling equipment during the fall 2018 monitoring event. The poster will summarize the field study methods and results and the results of the site PFAS screening.