Field Sampling Materials Unlikely Source of Contamination for Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Field Samples

By Alix E Rodowa, Emerson Christie, Jane Sedlak, Graham F Peaslee, Dorin Bogdan, Bill DiGuiseppi, and Jennifer A Field
Environ. Sci. & Tech. Let.
February 25, 2020
DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00036

It is important that sample collection and shipping for monitoring perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in groundwater and soil do not contribute to PFAS concentrations in samples. Recommendations in state and federal PFAS sampling guidance documents are not supported by analytical data nor plausible pathways for exposure. Sixty-six materials were analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) for 52 PFAS and total fluorine by particle-induced gamma-ray emission (PIGE) spectroscopy. Of the 22 materials with potential to come in direct contact with samples during sampling, none had quantifiable concentrations of routinely measured PFAS. Ten additional materials had quantifiable individual PFAS concentrations (<0.45–83 μg/m2), and 15 had total fluorine (8000 to >11,000,000 μg F/m). However, no plausible pathways for contaminating samples were detected. Estimates of the quantity of PFAS-containing materials required to reach the EPA health advisory limit (70 ng/L) for a 1 L water sample demonstrates the implausibility of actually contaminating samples. Strict limitations placed on field materials without plausible contact with field samples are not supported, and future efforts should focus only on materials that come in direct contact with field samples and have a plausible pathway for impacting the concentrations of PFAS to levels of concern.

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