Developing a Lines-of-Evidence Approach to Assessing PFAS Treatment Technologies
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Better treatment technologies are needed to address the contamination of water and groundwater resources by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a family of thousands of man-made compounds that are rapidly emerging as potential hazards to human health and the environment.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Environmental Protection Agency, and others have provided funding to research and develop a variety of innovative treatment approaches, and proponents of several innovative treatment technologies have claimed success in removing or destroying PFAS. However, removal mechanisms are often not understood, byproducts may not be measured, and the technology's effect on other components in different PFAS mixtures may be unknown. To improve the return on investment and guide future investments in PFAS treatment technologies, Geosyntec was selected to lead a team of PFAS researchers and develop practical decision tools, metrics, and guidance to inform the evaluation of the effectiveness of new PFAS treatment technologies.

Geosyntec's Scope of Services

Geosyntec collaborated with academic researchers from the University of California, Berkeley; Oregon State University; and the Colorado School of Mines to develop and refine lines of evidence, decision tools, and recommended metrics for assessing PFAS treatment technology performance. After identifying multiple potential lines of evidence, our team convened an expert workshop to refine and prioritize them. We then prepared a series of six fact sheets on PFAS analytical methods and associated best practices, along with a fact sheet on each of the top five lines of evidence, which posed the following questions:

  • Did the technology decrease PFAS concentrations?
  • Were the treatment kinetics and plausible mechanism identified?
  • Were transformation or degradation products identified and quantified?
  • Did the study employ best practices?
  • Did the study evaluate factors that may decrease PFAS treatment effectiveness?

We have developed fact sheets and draft decision tools which will be refined with input from multiple stakeholder groups. Geosyntec will then finalize the guidance and conduct outreach to target audiences via fact sheets, a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document, webinars, conference presentations, and publications.

Notable Accomplishments

This SERDP project will result in clearer guidance for researchers and practitioners by providing metrics for evaluating the success of PFAS treatment technologies at various stages of development. Some of the anticipated benefits include providing researchers and technology evaluators with an in-depth look at each line of evidence for assessing technology effectiveness; examples of solid outcomes from previous research projects and how existing analytical methods and tools, quality assurance procedures, or changes in study design could have improved project outcomes; a list of metrics to use when demonstrating technology efficacy; and a basis for comparing the effectiveness of different remedial technologies.

Project Summary

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Client: Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP)
  • Project Practice Areas: Contaminated Sites
  • Type of Facility: DoD sites
  • Services Provided: Developed multiple lines of evidence; Prepared guidance and decision-making tools
  • Type of Work: Applied Research
  • Governing Regulation: Federal