Claros Technologies recently published a study demonstrating widespread PFAS contamination in laboratory containers, showing hidden challenges in PFAS analysis and destruction. This paper is published in the Journal of Environmental Engineering, Volume 149 Issue 4 – April 2023 and can be found in the ASCE Library. Authors are Zijie Xia; Evan A. Leslie; John W. Brockgreitens; and Abdennour Abbas.
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large class of ubiquitous and persistent environmental contaminants. Due to the extremely stable carbon-fluorine bonds, PFAS are difficult to destruct. Increasing research efforts are focusing on PFAS defluorination, and one of the key challenges is tracking down the breakdown products and achieving a reasonable mass balance. In this study, we demonstrate one vital but often overlooked aspect of PFAS destruction studies, using perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) destruction with acoustic cavitation as a case. This study showed that PFOS–container interactions can significantly impact the destruction efficiency and provided an example whereby these interactions may be prevented using surface coating. A showcase of mass balance for PFAS defluorination using acoustic cavitation was also investigated by employing targeted analysis [liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)] and complementary untargeted analysis (total organofluorine measurement). This study demonstrated the necessity for a thorough consideration of all aspects in PFAS destruction experiments and the necessity of early adoption of total organofluorine measurements.
The authors would like to thank Andrew Christianson from Novem Scientific for conducting the total organofluorine (TOF) measurements.