Emerging Contaminants

PFAS are Widespread Emerging Contaminants of Concern

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a complex family of more than 3,000 man-made fluorinated organic chemicals.  PFAS include thousands of individual chemical compounds with strong carbon-fluorine bonds that make them useful to society in a wide variety of applications.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that PFAS have been used in the manufacture of carpets, clothing, furniture fabrics, paper packaging and cookware that are resistant to water, grease and stains.  They are also in aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) that are used as a fire suppressant.

Perfluorinated chemicals, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), are a subset of PFAS.  EPA recently established drinking water health advisories for PFOA and PFOS at 70 nanograms per liter (ng/L), or part per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS individually and 70 ng/L for PFOA and PFOS combined.  Recognized potential contaminant sources of PFAS include AFFF storage, handling and fire training; releases from commercial and industrial sources; landfill leachate; application or disposal of municipal biosolids; municipal wastewater treatment system discharges; and residential wastewater systems.  PFAS chemistry typically results in soluble compounds that transport easily in the subsurface, are especially stable, and particularly resistant to degradation by biological or chemical means.  Therefore, treating PFAS-contaminated groundwater is difficult.

For the past several years, Aries has worked with insurance companies, regulators, and private stakeholders at sites where PFAS have been detected in surface water, groundwater, water supply wells and soils.  At these sites, Aries’ work has included assessing fate and transport of PFAS, as well as evaluating applicable remediation strategies for this class of emerging chemical contaminants.  Our clients rely on Aries’ expertise in chemical fate and transport and remedial engineering experience to provide cost-effective, innovative and timely solution for these emerging contaminant issues.

April 27, 2018


Peter McGlew Peter McGlew, PG
Principal Hydrogeologist

Environmental Consultants in Concord, New Hampshire

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