EA has aligned with academic partners and leading research and development programs to advance the understanding of emerging contaminants science, and has recently focused on issues related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which have been a major focus due to DoD and civilian firefighter use of aqueous film-forming foam and the presence or use of this suite of more than 4,000 synthesized fluorinated compounds in a wide array of industrial, commercial, and specialty chemical applications.
We have leveraged our collective PFAS experience to assemble an in-house Subject Matter Expert workgroup of specialists in toxicology, remediation, chemistry, quality systems, engineering design, and regulatory policy to assist project staff in the challenges of collecting, analyzing, and remediating PFAS. As part of our commitment to addressing the current limited treatment technologies available for PFAS, we have invested in bench scale testing of synthetic resins and other media as viable alternatives to granular activated carbon treatment of drinking water. We are currently evaluating the effectiveness of indirect thermal desorption coupled with thermal oxidation technology to treat solid PFAS-impacted investigation-derived waste and other solid waste streams under a SERDP-funded project.
It all comes down to reducing the scientific uncertainty on how toxic these substances are to humans and the environment and how to effectively communicate the risk to the public. The great unifier will be when EPA develops a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for one or more PFAS.—Paul Caprio (EA PFAS Subject Matter Expert); Environmental Business Journal, Volume XXXI Number 5/6, 2018.