What are PFAS?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals, consisting of 4,000+ fluorinated organic compounds in use since the 1940s. They are colorless, odorless, and resistant to heat, oil, and water. Due to their strong bonds, these persistent fluorinated chemicals have been dubbed “forever” chemicals, with long-chain PFAS compound half-lives of over 40 years. Through their wide use over the last +/-80 years, PFAS compounds are ubiquitous across the globe, including having been identified in mammals in remote regions of the artic.

PFAS are found in many common products.  They include but are not limited to, non-stick cookware, stain/water-repellant fabrics, and other textiles, wire coating, leather and paper goods, plastics, rubber, carpet, packaging, electronics, plating, and firefighting foams. As of 2015, PFAS are no longer manufactured in the U.S. but they are still produced internationally and imported in the previously mentioned consumer goods.

How do PFAS affect the environment and your health?

PFAS contaminants are released into the air, deposited in soils,  and mobilized to groundwater and surface water, causing impacts to plants, wildlife, and humans. Exposure to PFAS has become an emerging issue across the country due to the toxicity of select PFAS compounds, their solubility, and mobility in water; their persistence in the environment from their lack of ability to degrade via natural processes; and their ability to bioaccumulate in living things.

PFAS contamination that enters surface water and groundwater can further migrate and impact private and public water supplies.

PFAS Cycle graphic

Image by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection via www.dep.pa.gov/pfas.

According to the MassDEP, health effects associated with exposure to PFAS may be:

  • accumulation in blood, liver, and kidneys of fish, wildlife, and humans;
  • effects on the thyroid, liver, kidneys, hormone levels, and the immune system;
  • cancer risk following long-term exposures to elevated levels of some PFASs; and
  • developmental effects in fetuses during pregnancy and in breastfed infants.

Localized elevated concentrations of PFAS compounds can be associated with manufacturing facilities producing goods containing PFAS, landfills, sludge fields from wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, airports, military facilities, firefighting training facilities, and firefighting foam application sites.

In May 2016, EPA issued a lifetime Health Advisory (HA) of 70 ppt or 70 ng/L for PFAS in drinking water. In October 2020, MassDEP published its PFAS public drinking water standard of 20 parts per trillion (ppt) or 20 nanograms per liter (ng/L) individually or for the sum of the concentrations of the following six (6) specific PFAS compounds:

  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS);
  • perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA);
  • perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS);
  • perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA);
  • perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA); and
  • perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA).

Omni Environmental Group can Help You with PFAS Concerns, Sampling, and Risk Mitigation

Omni Environmental Group is aware of the present challenges and current limitations associated with assessment, remediation, and management of PFAS contaminated sites. Investigation, sampling, and remediation efforts require pioneering, flexible, and skilled consultants; actively engaged in the emerging policies, apprised of current research, and able to respond to regulatory changes and advancing technologies to achieve successful risk mitigation at PFAS sites.

We are ready to aid homeowners, property owners, and municipalities with PFAS concerns by:

  • Assessing and sampling of drinking water private and public water supplies;
  • Locating the source(s) of the PFAS contamination;
  • Aiding in the management of PFAS-contaminated waste streams
  • Setting up of water treatment systems and alternative water supply;
  • Forming site-specific best management practices;
  • Providing regulatory guidance;
  • Conducting due diligence assessment for property transactions; and
  • Complying with emerging and evolving regulations.

The trained professionals at Omni Environmental Group are available to answer any questions, provide for sampling, mitigation, and/or assessment activities regarding PFAS or other environmental issues you may have by phone at 978-256-6766 or email at info@omnieg.com.