PFAS analysis

With deep expertise in chemical analysis and state-of-the art laboratories in the UK, RPS can provide PFAS analysis for soil, sediments, wastewater, food and animal tissues.

What is PFAS?

PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a broad group of man-made chemicals that have been used in a wide variety of products and applications, due to their water repellent and non-stick properties. They are known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they do not break down in the environment. These chemicals are found in food packaging, cookware, cosmetics, carpets and mattresses and fire-fighting foams, to name just a few industrial applications.

The history of PFAS analysis in the UK

PFAS rose to the public’s attention in the UK, in the aftermath of the 2005 Buncefield oil disaster. In order to bring this fire under control, PFOS (Perfluorooctane Sulfonate) was used as a key surfactant in hundreds of tons of firefighting foam. PFOS and PFOA were subsequently found to be present in the main aquifer below the site and further monitoring showed its presence in numerous water sources throughout the country.

In 2009, PFOS was added to Annex B of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Following this, measures were taken to restrict its production and use and further restriction was also proposed for PFAS substances containing C7 or C8 perfluorocarbon chains. 

In 2013 PFOS and its derivatives were added to Annex I of the Priority Hazardous Directive (2013/39/EC). The EU surface water annual average environmental quality standard (AA-EQS) was set to 0.65ng/L and applied in 2018.

The UK Environment Agency has published Soil Screening Values for PFOS of 0.014 mg/Kg (dry weight). Similarly, the UK Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) guidance places a tiered risk assessment approach with a trigger value of 10ng/L on PFOS and PFOA, above which further monitoring must be undertaken. This would be based on a list of 47 PFAS chemicals which include 19 of the 20 PFAS chemicals listed in the revised European Drinking Water directive.

Following large scale monitoring programmes such as UK Chemicals Investigation Programme (CIP) and data provided by the UK Environment Agency (EA), we know that PFAS chemicals are present in the majority of our surface water bodies. The EA state that in 470 fresh water bodies monitored since 2016, only 8% of sites had concentrations below the EQS for PFOS (from 0.053 ng/L to 84 ng/L), and only 3% of estuarine and costal waters monitored were below the EQS. Furthermore, from the CIP phase 2 monitoring programme which looked at 450 Waste Water Treatment Works, 90% of samples downstream of the discharge are exceeding the EQS. Most samples upstream of the works are already at the limit or exceeding the EQS.

Our expertise in PFAS analysis

The RPS Bedford laboratory was one of the first laboratories in the UK to gain UKAS accreditation for the analysis of a range PFAS chemicals following the monitoring required at the Buncefield oil terminal. Our laboratory team has been instrumental in providing analytical support during the extensive remediation and clean-up project and then providing routine monitoring.

Bedford Laboratories PFAS analysis

We have been providing ISO 17025 accredited analysis of both PFOS and PFOA as part of the UK Chemicals Investigation Programme for the last 12 years in line with EU AA-EQS targets and with limits of detection for both substances in water, down to 0.09ng/L. This is roughly equivalent to detecting a single drop of PFOS in 44 Olympic size swimming pools.

We carry out analysis of PFAS chemicals in line with the European Drinking Water Directive list of 20 and the UK Drinking Water Inspectorate list of 47 which we have now extended to include 51 targeted PFAS chemicals as 0.1ng/L.

As shorter chain PFASs  (<C7) are less retained by granulated activated carbon treatment systems, we have been providing analytical support to water companies, consultancies and university pilot trials in order to monitor a wide range of PFASs. This has helped our clients to evaluate their treatment options and understand the risks posed by other currently unregulated substances.

We have also been recently involved in the analysis of landfill leachate from open and closed landfill sites on behalf of the Environment Agency and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to assess the potential risks of these forever chemicals from these sites. We can also provide analysis for soil, sediment, food and animal tissues.

Quality and experience

RPS has been accredited for the analysis of these chemicals since 2005 and has years of experience in the analysis of these chemicals at ultra-low levels including 12 years producing analysis data for the UK Chemical Investigation Programme as well as years of successful participation in external Performance Testing in schemes such as AQS, Aquacheck and Quasimeme.  RPS is also a member of the Environment Agency PFAS laboratory steering group which links into the wider European data sharing network.

PFAS analysis and compounds of emerging interest

RPS can also provide the analysis of compounds of emerging interests. For instance, Perfluoroethylcyclohexane Sulfonate (PFECHS) has been utilised extensively as a hydraulic fluid additive inhibit corrosion especially in aircraft systems. It has recently been identified as a likely source of this product in surface waters, fish and sediments in the proximity to airport facilities. As PFECHS is a technical mixture it contains over 13 constituents in varying ratios which can be determined by LC-MS/MS.

EU DWD PFAS 20 List analysis

In line with the new proposed EU council amendment to Directive 98/83/EC Annex I and III, which now includes 20 PFAS compounds and sets a Sum of PFASs limit of 0.1ug/l, this reflects the World Health Organisation’s recommendations.

Using LC-MS/MS RPS can detect sub nanogram levels of these PFAS compound in surface water, groundwater and treated effluents.

PFAS 20 List from Annex III

  • Perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA)
  • Perfluoropentanoic acid (PFPA)
  • Perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA)
  • Perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA)
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
  • Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)
  • Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA)
  • Perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA)
  • Perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoDA)
  • Perfluorotridecanoic acid (PFTrDA)
  • Perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS)
  • Perfluoropentane sulfonic acid (PFPS)
  • Perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS)
  • Perfluoroheptane sulfonic acid (PFHpS)
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)
  • Perfluorononane sufonic acid (PFNS)
  • Perfluorodecane sulfonic acid (PFDS)
  • Perfluoroundecene sulfonic acid
  • Perfluorododecane sulfonic acid
  • Perfluorotridecane sulfonic acid

 

UK DWI PFAS 47 List analysis

The UK drinking water inspectorate as of the 31st December 2021 requires that all drinking water is monitored for a list of 47 PFAS compounds in order to gather further information on their levels and prevalence in UK supplies.  RPS has developed a targeted method to detect 51 PFAS compounds in one run to assist water companies and private supplies to meet this new regulatory requirement

List of 51 PFAS included in the standard analysis suite

Abbreviation

CAS Reg No

Description

PFBA

375-22-4        

Perfluoro-n-butanoic acid

PFPeA

2706-90-3

Perfluoro-n-pentanoic acid

PFHxA

307-24-4

Perfluoro-n-hexanoic acid

PFHpA

375-85-9

Perfluoro-n-heptanoic acid

PFOA

335-67-1

Perfluoro-n-octanoic acid

PFNA

375-95-1

Perfluoro-n-nonanoic acid

PFDA

335-76-2

Perfluoro-n-decanoic acid

PFUnDA

2058-94-8

Perfluoro-n-undecanoic acid

PFDoDA

307-55-1

Perfluoro-n-dodecanoic acid

PFTrDA

72629-94-8

Perfluoro-n-tridecanoic acid

PFTDA

376-06-7

Perfluoro-n-tetradecanoic acid

PFHxDA

67905-19-5

Perfluoro-n-hexadecanoic acid

PFODA

16517-11-6

Perfluoro-n-octadecanoic acid

PFBS

29420-49-3

Potassium perfluoro-1-butanesulfonate

PFPeS

630402-22-1

Sodium perfluoro-1-pentanesulfonate

PFHxS

82382-12-5

Sodium perfluoro-1-hexanesulfonate

PFHpS

21934-50-9

Sodium perfluoro-1-heptanesulfonate

PFOS

4021-47-0

Sodium perfluoro-1-octanesulfonate

PFNS

98789-57-2

Sodium perfluoro-1-nonanesulfonate

PFDS

2806-15-7

Sodium perfluoro-1-decanesulfonate

PFUnDS

441296-91-9

Sodium perfluoro-1-undecanesulfonate

PFDoDS

1260224-54-1

Sodium perfluoro-1-dodecanesulfonate

PFTrDS

174675-49-1

Sodium perfluoro-1-tridecanesulfonate

PFECHS

335-24-0

Perfluoro-4-ethylcyclohexanesulfonate

HFPO-DA

13252-13-6

2,3,3,3-Tetrafluoro-2-(1,1,2,2,3,3,3-heptafluoropropoxy)propanoic acid (Gen X)

HFPO-TA

13252-14-7

Perfluoro-2,5-dimethyl-3,6-dioxanonanoic acid

DONA

2250081-67-3

Sodium dodecafluoro-3H-4,8-dioxanonanoate

PFMPA

377-73-1

Perfluoro-4-oxapentanoic acid (PFMoPrA)

NFDHA

151772-58-6

Perfluoro-3,6-dioxaheptanoic acid (NFDHA)

PFMBA

863090-89-5

Perfluoro-5-oxahexanoic acid (PFMOBA)

3:3 FTCA

356-02-5

3-Perfluoropropyl propanoic acid    (3:3)

5:3 FTCA

914637-49-3

3-Perfluoropentyl propanoic acid    (5:3)

7:3 FTCA

812-70-4

3-Perfluoroheptyl propanoic acid    (7:3)

PFEESA

113507-82-7

Perfluoro-(2-ethoxyethane)-sulfonic acid

F53B Major

 73606-19-6

Potassium 9-chlorohexadecafluoro-3-oxanonane-1-sulfonate

F53B Minor

 83329-89-9

Potassium 11-chloroeicosafluoro-3-oxaundecane-1-sulfonate

4:2 FTSA

27619-93-8

Sodium 1H,1H,2H,2H-perfluorohexane sulfonate    (4:2)

6:2 FTSA

27619-94-9

Sodium 1H,1H,2H,2H-perfluorooctane sulfonate    (6:2)

8:2 FTSA

 27619-96-1

Sodium 1H,1H,2H,2H-perfluorodecane sulfonate    (8:2)

10:2 FTSA

120226-60-0

Sodium 1H,1H,2H,2H-perfluorododecane sulfonate (10:2)

FBSA

30334-69-1

Perfluoro-1-butanesulfonamide

FHxSA

41997-13-1

Perfluoro-1-hexanesulfonamide

PFOSA

754-91-6

Perfluoro-1-octanesulfonamide

N-MeFOSAA

31506-32-8

N-methylperfluoro-1-octanesulfonamidoacetic acid

N-EtFOSAA

4151-50-2

N-ethylperfluoro-1-octanesulfonamidoacetic acid

N-MeFOSA

2355-31-9

N-methylperfluoro-1-octansulfonamide

N-EtFOSA

2991-50-6

N-ethylperfluoro-1-octanesulfonamide

MeFOSE

24448-09-7

2-(N-methylperfluoro-1-octanesulfonamido)-ethanol

EtFOSE

1691-99-2

2-(N-ethylperfluoro-1-octanesulfonamido)-ethanol

6:2 FTAB

34455-29-3

Carboxymethyldimethyl-3-[[(3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,8-tridecafluorooctyl)sulfonyl]amino]prpylammonium hydroxide

6:2 diPaP

57677-95-9

Sodium bis(1H,1H,2H,2H-[1,2-13C2]-perfluorooctyl)phosphate

Our PFAS specialists

Marco_Lattughi_Operational_Director

Marco Lattughi

Operational Director - Analytical Services T: +44 (0) 1462 480 400 Email
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Bedford | UK
Matthew Hickson RPS Group.jpg

Matthew Hickson

Laboratory Manager - Analytical Services T: +44 1462 480 400 Email
Bedford | UK

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