Understanding PFAS

EM – May 2024: This month, EM features articles covering a variety of topics related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in water, soil, landfills, and air.
by Michele Karnes

A&WMA held its first conference on the science of PFAS in the midst of the COVID pandemic, remaining committed to the exchange of information on critical environmental topics despite the challenges encountered along the way. That program drew an unprecedented level of participation, despite the forced, last-minute drive to a virtual program. Since that time, we have hosted two additional conferences on the same topic, following advances in the science as they have progressed. This year's program drew a sell-out crowd and continued to present state-of-the-art conversations on a still emerging environmental challenge.

In this issue of EM, we are fortunate to continue the conversation and share with you updates on the hard work being done by some of our session chairs on various aspects of this challenging topic. The first article by Erin P. Shields and coauthors presents an overview of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Other Test Method – 50 (OTM–50) and an example of how its use can provide valuable insight into semivolatile and nonvolatile PFAS in source emissions.

Next, Taryn McKnight looks at the current regulatory developments and compliance challenges to addressing PFAS. In particular, the author notes that given the lack of clear regulation on PFAS, industry is left making program specific decisions with guesstimates about what will be needed from a compliance standpoint in the future.

In the third article, Mike Crisenbery and coauthors outline the results of the first full-scale testing of high-temperature incineration for PFAS destruction and demonstrate the promise of thermal treatment for managing the growing challenges from PFAS in the environment.

Next, Jaana Pietari and coauthors describe the outcomes of a case study that was completed to characterize the nature, sources, and extent of PFAS detected in the surrounding environment.

Last but not least, in the first of a two-part article, Ivan A. Cooper considers the challenges of the current technologies available for removing and concentrating PFAS from landfills. Part 2 will appear in the June issue and will focus on the cost of PFAS removal.

As you read the articles in this issue, please be thinking about “next steps.” How can you contribute to the conversation? Perhaps that is reaching out to our authors, or perhaps it is presenting or exhibiting at next year's conference in spring 2025. Stay tuned for updates on dates and location that will be announced very soon. And, finally, please feel free to reach out to me or a member of the Board of Directors if you aren't quite sure on how to get involved in the Association's dialogue. Enjoy this issue, and a special thanks to each of our authors for your hard work and contributions to the developing science!

Continue reading the full May 2024 issue of EM.


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