Senior Environmental Engineer, PFAS Global Practice Leader
With the growing number of clients and regulators worldwide that are seeking to address the health and environmental concerns related to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), Golder is committed to discovering new ways to resolve the challenges posed by this class of emerging contaminants. For the last few years, our scientists have been working with industries, academic institutions and governments around the world on research and development projects with very promising results. PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that are pervasive and potentially harmful to people and the environment at low concentrations. Over the past 50 years, thousands of PFAS have been developed for different applications in industrial processes and products, in a variety of market sectors including government, infrastructure, transportation, manufacturing, oil and gas, power and mining.
PFAS are challenging to manage because of the number of PFAS present and the unique chemical and physical properties that each group has, which affect how the substances migrate and distribute in soil, sediment and water. Despite the work done to date, there remains uncertainty regarding PFAS’ movement and toxicity to the environment, as well as methods to efficiently and effectively remediate contaminated media.
The following is a brief update on Golder’s R&D progress.
For testing and screening, Golder is collaborating on two research projects with world-renowned organizations:
- PFAS Passive Sampler: This research enables measurement of ionic and neutral PFAS in groundwater, surface water and pore water, with the goal of providing a quantitative time-integrated monitoring method which would represent a ground-breaking advance for site and risk assessments. Other advantages include measurement of the dissolved fraction that drives toxicity, improved detection limits, no disturbance of water column, lower risk of cross-contamination, less time in the field and no water disposal.
- Analytical Tools, Fate and Transport, and Toxicity: This research includes developing and optimizing analytical protocols for novel PFAS and total organic fluorine screening; understanding the fate of structurally different PFAS by studying mobility and parameters affecting speciation; investigating toxicity drivers and establishing effect-oriented chemical and biological analysis using mechanistic studies and metabolomics.
For treatment in water/wastewater, we are working on one innovative project which aims at the destruction of PFAS as opposed to transferring them to other media:
- Electro-oxidation: This research includes the use of long-lasting boron-doped-diamond electrodes generating hydroxyl radicals to destroy PFAS in water without the use of chemicals and without generating spent filters, adsorption media or sludge. This work is done in collaboration with the department of Civil Engineering from McGill University.
- Non-thermal ionized plasma treatment: This research includes using a non-thermal ionized gas mixture of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species to collide with gas/water molecules producing secondary electrons, ions and radicals that destroy PFAS. The aim is to destroy PFAS directly in PFAS concentrated-water.
For treatment/remediation in soil, we are looking at stabilization as well as destruction of PFAS:
- Ball milling: In this research we have partnered with Queen’s University, Royal Military College of Canada and a global Oil and Gas corporation to investigate the destruction of PFAS in soil using ball milling. This technique is showing very promising results, with significant destruction of all the PFAS measured in laboratory and using field soils. Golder is now working with the research team on further optimization, scaling and field implementation. A patent application has been filed.
- Solidification / stabilization: This research includes testing of amendments for in-situ soil treatment as well as PFAS residual management from water treatment.
With our ongoing work and the exiting result we have already achieved, we are uncovering leading edge solutions that push the boundaries of scientific discovery and deliver cost-effective services to clients around the world.
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