CEM - Abstract

Abstract Title: Characterization of PFAS content in stack emissions
Presenter Name: Dr Patrick Berghmans
Company/Organisation: Flemish Institute for Technological Research - VITO
Country: Belgium

Abstract Information :

The ability to measure PFAS air emissions is a rapidly emerging need, largely driven by the need to address local and regional PFAS emission issues, initiating research to develop and evaluate methods for measuring PFAS from industrial sources. Considering the persistence and mobility of PFAS in the environment, the objective should be to prevent or minimize emissions. In order to understand better the sources, the transport pathways, the transformation processes and the environmental fate, it is clearly vital that accurate measurements of the concentration levels of PFAS (target-analyses) and of the fingerprint (non-target screening) in important transport media such as ambient air should be performed. Air emissions of PFAS from industrial sources is now recognized as a significant route for PFAS releases to the environment and is evidenced by deposition as well as their presence in ambient air, soil and surface water. PFAS can become airborne by numerous routes, such as waste incineration, manufacturer stack emissions, and leachate evaporation. Once PFAS is airborne, its geographical impacts can become far reaching. Air deposition of PFAS can cause a wide array of non-air matrices to be impacted. Reliable PFAS and PFAS-related emissions measurement methods are needed to conduct comprehensive emissions testing and characterization. In 2020 VITO started to conduct several air monitoring campaigns near sites with the potential for air emissions associated with processes that historically and currently use PFAS-containing raw materials, with the purpose to survey and assess the PFAs levels and distribution to see whether local sources/ processes might be implicated. Performance-based methods were validated to assess measurement performance and data quality, applicable to the collection and quantitative analysis of specific semi-volatile (B.P. > 100.C) and particulate-bound PFAS. The targeted analysis can currently analyze 50 PFAS chemicals down to a 1.5 nanogram level. However, it is challenging to apply the methodology in a manner that yields representative results. PFAS compounds are everywhere and are very “sticky”. Using the combination of target analysis together with non-targeted screening enables us to understand the multimedia environmental distribution of fluorinated compounds originating from PFAS emissions and to differentiate sources by identifying a typical signature distribution of compounds for different sources of PFAS. Looking ahead, it is expected that the PFAS emitted to the air will be a target of data collection, source ant fate characterization, air dispersion modeling, health impact studies, and rule development.