Wednesday, October 14, 2020
A per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) investigation is headed for a website close to you… State and federal regulators are more and more issuing PFAS investigation orders and requiring the addition of PFAS to website characterization plans. Additional, some events are opting to conduct voluntary PFAS website investigations as a method of managing future danger and legal responsibility. PFAS investigations could be daunting given the heightened scrutiny required of sampling procedures, the state-by-state patchwork of ever-lower regulatory standards and the monetary and authorized implications doubtlessly related to investigation outcomes.
Website investigations are used to reply basic questions similar to: What’s the extent of the contaminant footprint? Is the contamination migrating off-site? What’s the supply of contamination? Do contaminant ranges exceed regulatory standards? Whereas PFAS website investigations typically comply with the identical principals as these for different environmental contaminants, additionally they pose distinctive challenges and require PFAS-specific issues stemming from the ubiquity of PFAS and the evolving state of the scientific, regulatory, and authorized panorama. Taking these issues into consideration is a step in the direction of reaching a PFAS investigation that produces correct, defensible information and meets the investigation’s general aims.
SAMPLING IS THE CRUX OF SITE CHARACTERIZATION
Relating to PFAS sampling, the precautionary precept applies. With excessive monetary and authorized implications tied to website investigation outcomes, the very last thing a celebration wants is for the credibility of the outcomes to be undermined by a difficulty related to pattern assortment.
The ever present presence of PFAS has been effectively established. A number of supplies related to pattern assortment, together with water resistant clothes and area gear, sunscreen, insect repellent, and plastic clipboards, doubtlessly include PFAS. The potential presence of PFAS in these supplies, juxtaposed with near-detection restrict regulatory ranges, warrants precaution in opposition to cross contamination throughout sampling. Subsequently, sampling for PFAS requires extra issues past these utilized throughout sampling for different chemical compounds. Whereas PFAS sampling methods that take these issues into consideration can improve time and price necessities to website characterization efforts, they assist guarantee the gathering of correct and defensible information.
SITE CHARACTERIZATION 101
This text outlines the important thing elements that kind the inspiration of a profitable PFAS website characterization. Included within the dialogue are helpful sources starting from web sites particularly maintained to offer the latest PFAS laws, to steering for area personnel to reduce the potential for cross-contamination throughout sampling. Cautious planning and execution of the PFAS website characterization is paramount to figuring out and mitigating the dangers and liabilities related to PFAS contamination.
UNDERSTAND THE REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
Contemplating ever-mounting regulatory scrutiny, PFAS website characterization could also be warranted, and in some circumstances required, relying on the state through which a website is situated. Understanding PFAS laws, or lack thereof, which can be related at a given website is a vital step in the direction of a profitable PFAS investigation, as regulatory, screening or steering ranges are key in creating the info high quality aims of the investigation. For instance, websites present process PFAS investigation in California could pursue the bottom attainable detection limits for soil or groundwater in gentle of stringent screening ranges for 2 of essentially the most extensively studied PFAS constituents, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), lately issued by a regulatory authority in that state. Different states have opted to manage PFAS past the federal consuming water well being advisory limits. Regardless of the place PFAS are situated, one factor for sure is that the regulatory atmosphere is in flux. For instance, whereas state-level regulation has dominated the panorama in lieu of federal exercise, the U.S. Environmental Safety Company (EPA) could also be itemizing PFOS and PFOA as hazardous substances beneath the federal Complete Environmental Response, Compensation and Legal responsibility Act (CERCLA), in any other case often known as Superfund, within the close to future. The implications of this pending hazardous substance designation are far reaching as mentioned within the April 2020 Godfrey & Kahn Environmental Methods FLASH.
To maintain present on PFAS laws, go to the Interstate Know-how Regulatory Counsel (ITRC) web site and obtain the up to date tables of state, federal and worldwide PFAS standards.
The aims of the location investigation shall be pushed by the rationale for pursuing the info:
Investigation carried out as a part of due diligence: Rising contaminants of concern, like PFAS, are sometimes seen as a possible risk to human or ecological well being, however as a result of they aren’t but listed beneath CERCLA, they’re subsequently not thought of by EPA to satisfy the definition of a “hazardous substance.” If conducting a Part I Environmental Website Evaluation (ESA) per the ASTM E1527-13 Customary, consideration of PFAS is presently outdoors the scope of the Customary, even when a neighborhood (or state) regulatory company has established PFAS steering or cleanup necessities. Whereas it will not be required to judge PFAS in a Part I ESA, events have gotten extra conscious of potential liabilities as states conduct their very own water provide investigations and enact requirements. A Part I ESA together with “non-scope” issues could also be accomplished, or a separate report ready, if a particular use or occupant of the location is suspected of discharging PFAS to the atmosphere. A PFAS investigation carried out as a part of due diligence beneath attorney-client privilege can also be a method of managing danger by studying of potential PFAS impacts at a website. How do you determine whether or not or to not pattern for PFAS? The necessary subjects of attorney-client privilege, confidentiality, alternatives for “exploratory” investigations and spill reporting shall be addressed in a subsequent article.
Investigation mandated by regulatory authority: Whereas some states have taken little motion with respect to PFAS whereas awaiting EPA steering, others have proposed or promogulated stringent requirements for sure PFAS, established process forces for toxicology research, and initiating widespread PFAS investigation efforts. As an illustration, in June 2020, the New Jersey Division of Environmental Safety (NJDEP) adopted Floor Water High quality Requirements for PFOA of 14 components per trillion (ng/L) and PFOS (13 ng/L), becoming a member of the beforehand adopted customary for perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) of 13 ng/L in 2018. In 2019, NJDEP issued steering that for websites with remediation beneath NJDEP regulation, an analysis or Preliminary Evaluation have to be carried out to judge if there’s the potential that PFOA and/or PFOS “could have been manufactured, used, dealt with, saved, disposed or discharged on the website or space of concern.” If PFOA/PFOS are recognized as contaminants of concern, then a groundwater investigation is required. Equally, in 2019, New York started requiring websites entered into the Brownfield Cleanup Program and Superfund Program to include a particular suite of PFAS into investigations. Different states are taking tiered approaches as they first stock amenities which will impression consuming water provides. In California, the State Water Sources Management Board (SWRCB) is taking a phased method to investigating websites, beginning in 2019 with supply investigation and close by consuming water provide sampling inside sure radii of airports and municipal strong waste landfills, adopted by chrome plating amenities, refineries, bulk terminals, hearth coaching areas, secondary manufacturing websites, and wastewater therapy and pre-treatment vegetation.
Investigation carried out as a part of ongoing litigation – State attorneys basic, environmental organizations, consuming water suppliers and different events are submitting lawsuits in opposition to main manufactures and downstream customers of PFAS. Investigations stemming from these lawsuits could must be tailor-made to match and distinction particular compounds used at a property versus compounds recognized within the native atmosphere, and consider potential amenities within the surrounding space that could be doubtlessly accountable events contributing to the contaminant plume.
DOING YOUR HOMEWORK
A PFAS conceptual website mannequin is vital to assessing potential sources, transport pathways and receptors of PFAS in varied media. Due diligence, whether or not within the type of a Part I ESA or focused analysis, ought to contemplate quite a few components. When evaluating the potential sources of PFAS, contemplate the next:
Is the location a present or former main producer or secondary PFAS producer? Main producers embody places the place PFAS are or had been manufactured from different uncooked chemical elements. Secondary producers are places had been PFAS had been included into completed merchandise. Secondary manufacturing websites can embody paper product producers, semiconductors, textiles/leather-based manufacturing, surfactant manufacturing, and manufacturing of resins, molds, coatings, and plastics.
Is there present or former dealing with, storage and/or use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) on the website? PFAS is a key part of AFFF, which has been used to fight liquid gas fires because the 1970s. Subsequently, websites similar to hearth coaching amenities, airports, army bases and places of bulk gas storage probably used AFFF traditionally or could proceed to take action at present.
Is the location a present or former metallic plating facility? PFAS is a identified part within the surfactants used as mist-suppressants used within the chrome plating trade, and probably in different forms of metallic plating purposes.
Is the location related to wastewater therapy effluent, landfill leachate or biosolids utility? These substrates can include PFAS derived from the actions and makes use of described above.
The objective of preliminary PFAS due diligence needs to be to ascertain potential on-site supply areas. Whereas the usual sources utilized in due diligence1 can present perception on historic occupants and operations (topographic maps, aerial pictures, fires insurance coverage maps, metropolis directories) extra info could be captured by reviewing chemical inventories, Proper To Know submittals and security information sheets to acquire a greater understanding of chemical compounds which will have been used/saved that include PFAS, and the timeframe these chemical compounds had been used. Evaluation of those paperwork could discover merchandise are composed of PFAS, or could determine commerce names, or indicators on SDS like “fluoro,” “fluorosurfactant” or “fluoroprotein.” This info would then be in comparison with the timeframes PFAS started to be produced (varied PFAS had been typically first developed in 1940’s to 1970’s). Fireplace division/emergency administration recordsdata could also be reviewed to find out if fires have occurred on the website that had been extinguished utilizing AFFF, or if foam hearth suppression programs have been used at a website. Industrial websites could have traditionally had on-site landfilling, oil/water separators or wastewater therapy vegetation which will have obtained PFAS-containing waste that was subsequently launched to the atmosphere.
As a result of PFAS are usually not presently categorised as hazardous substances, the administration and disposal of PFAS-containing supplies, together with AFFF, weren’t generally documented and tracked. Subsequently, along with the due diligence actions famous above, interviews with website personnel with information of present and historic website operations could be helpful to seize info pertaining to potential PFAS-sources that aren’t captured in website documentation.
Transport and publicity pathways
As soon as there’s an understanding of potential on-site PFAS supply areas, transport and publicity pathways could be evaluated to find out if there’s a full pathway from a possible PFAS supply to receptors. This analysis considers a number of components together with PFAS quantity, potential for discharge throughout storage and dealing with (flooring drains, septic system versus public sewer service, publicity to stormwater, lined versus unlined landfill), and potential for atmospheric deposition of PFAS from industrial air emissions. Website-specific topography, geology, hydrogeology and stormwater/floor water circulation typically needs to be evaluated as a part of the destiny and transport analysis to find out how PFAS could infiltrate into soils, sediment and groundwater, runoff into floor water, and in flip impression human and/or ecological receptors. Destiny and transport of PFAS may also be influenced by the geochemistry of probably impacted environmental matrices (e.g., soil, groundwater, floor water) and presence of pure- or dissolved section co-contaminates, similar to petroleum hydrocarbons or unstable natural compounds, as recognized in earlier remedial actions.
Strategic placement of sampling places can incorporate the findings of PFAS due diligence and destiny and transport analysis, in addition to publicly accessible sources for potential PFAS sources within the neighborhood of the location, particularly upgradient of the location. States like Michigan and New Hampshire are have begun to compile outcomes of PFAS consuming water sampling and investigations which could be in comparison with or referenced to know website space considerations.
BUT HOW DO WE SAMPLE?
As soon as a choice is made to conduct a PFAS investigation, there are nonetheless many components to contemplate as a part of the sampling plan, together with number of sampling tools and provides and willpower of the suitable analytical technique. Whereas the sections under are usually not meant as a complete “how-to” of PFAS sampling, they handle these and different key issues for profitable pattern assortment and evaluation.
A lot ado about sampling tools and provides
With such low ranges of PFAS presently thought of a concern2, and the presence of PFAS in so many merchandise, there’s a concern of cross contamination from sampling tools and provides. Supplies thought of acceptable for PFAS pattern on account of low danger of cross contamination embody stainless-steel, polypropylene, excessive density polyethylene (HDPE), polyvinylchloride (PVC), silicone, acetate and polypropylene. Supplies to keep away from on account of the next potential for cross contamination embody low density polyethylene (LDPE), glass or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, Teflon™). Pattern bottleware is usually HDPE containers, as PFAS can adhere to glass.
As well as, unacceptable secondary area supplies embody water resistant paper, notebooks and labels (PFAS could also be in water resistant inks and coatings), sticky notes, plastic clipboards and binders, felt pens and markers, and aluminum foil (protecting layer could include PFAS). Meals wrappers and packaging have to be stored out of sampling areas. Unacceptable supplies which were recognized for sampling crew clothes and private merchandise embody water- or stain-resistant boots and clothes (similar to GORE-TEX®), latex gloves, clothes lately laundered with material softener, and moisturizers and hand lotions. California has even recognized of their sampling steering examples of sunscreens and bug repellants which can be PFAS-free.
The chance of cross contamination from varied supplies sometimes used or utilized throughout sampling is the topic of ongoing analysis. Whereas restricted, some analysis findings have steered that PFAS can leach into water over an prolonged time frame from sampling supplies similar to tubing and bailers; nonetheless, preliminary testing didn’t discover proof of quantifiable concentrations of frequent particular person PFAS in choose supplies utilized in pattern assortment, similar to putty caulk, resin and polyethylene bladders, and a few transport/packaging supplies. The cautionary principal is being adopted for PFAS sampling efforts within the absence of supporting proof to confirm the necessity for intensive PFAS sampling “do’s and don’ts.”
Institution and use of a normal working process (SOP) that outlines sampling methodology, tools, high quality assurance/high quality management (QA/QC) samples, correct pattern storage and dealing with, and lists of acceptable and unacceptable PFAS sampling supplies is a key step to handle the challenges related to present precautionary practices surrounding PFAS sampling. An SOP is a method of lowering the chance of cross contamination and producing outcomes that meet the info high quality aims of the investigation.
QA/QC samples ought to embody tools blanks and area blanks as relevant. Tools blanks are ready by pouring PFAS-free water over or by means of decontaminated reusable area sampling tools and accumulating the rinsate in a pattern container. Subject blanks are ready by filling a pattern container with PFAS-free water within the area in the identical method as environmental samples. Subject blanks and tools blanks are an efficient technique of assessing potential cross-contamination on account of pattern assortment and dealing with. Journey blanks, sometimes reserved for samples designated for evaluation of unstable natural compounds (VOCs), may also be included PFAS pattern coolers to evaluate the potential for cross contamination throughout pattern transport. Licensed PFAS-free water could be obtained from an analytical laboratory, sometimes for a charge, or could be obtained from an on-site supply as soon as that supply is verified as PFAS-free by means of laboratory evaluation. The latter possibility could also be a cost-efficient resolution when massive volumes of PFAS-free water are wanted for decontamination.
Analytical technique choice
Present EPA accepted strategies for analyzing PFAS in consuming water are EPA Strategies 533 and 537.1. Nevertheless, there isn’t any customary technique for analyzing PFAS in different media similar to floor water, groundwater, soil and sediment. For these media, a modification of EPA Methodology 537 is out there for a restricted suite of PFAS constituents. For instance, the U.S. Division of Protection (DOD) High quality Methods Handbook for Environmental Laboratories (QSM)3 has high quality management necessities for PFAS evaluation in non-drinking water samples. An SOP could specify using a modified 537 technique compliant with the latest DOD QSM necessities as a defensible analytical method in lieu of an EPA-approved technique.
If elevated ranges of PFAS are recognized in soils, testing through Artificial Precipitation Leaching Process could assist decide the potential for PFAS leaching from soil into groundwater. One other doubtlessly helpful evaluation for danger analysis is the Whole Oxidizable Precursor (TOP) assay which may also help determine PFAS breakdown merchandise that could be oxidized downgradient and/or off-site within the contaminant plume over time.
As a result of states are at various milestones for establishing PFAS steering values or requirements, the present focus has been on two media: consuming water and groundwater. Because the understanding of PFAS toxicology is repeatedly altering and states are at varied levels of promulgating requirements, it is very important assessment the latest state PFAS screening ranges previous to any investigation. It will be sure that the SOP will determine acceptable analytical strategies and related reporting limits and that the investigation will generate information that’s akin to relevant regulatory screening ranges.
There’s not a “one dimension matches all” method to PFAS website characterization. As a result of PFAS is omnipresent in our lives and present steering values space extraordinarily low, a tailor-made method needs to be taken when creating a PFAS sampling plan. Cautious consideration of particular places and receptors suspected of contamination, and methodology to generate prime quality information and keep away from cross contamination are key.
1 As beforehand famous, PFAS is just not listed as a CERCLA hazardous substance (and subsequently not required to be included in a Part I ESA) and PFAS haven’t traditionally been amongst contaminants required to be investigated as a part of website investigation/remedial actions; subsequently, a brand new analysis targeted particularly on PFAS could also be warranted.
2 When evaluating to relevant requirements that exist, the USEPA consuming water well being advisory ranges for PFOA and PFOS are 70 components per trillion (nanograms per liter [ng/L]) individually or mixed when each compounds are current, and states have established consuming water and/or groundwater requirements typically between 5 and 750 ng/L.
3 Desk B-15 of the High quality Methods Handbook handle PFAS evaluation.