A Forensics Based Approach to Evaluating PFAS Contamination in the Environment

Environmental Forensics
Oral Presentation

Prepared by C. Neslund
Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories Environment Testing, 2425 New Holland Pike, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 17601, United States

Contact Information: [email protected]; 717-556-7231


There are several tools already available in the analytical chemist’s toolbox, from the recognition of the presence of branched chain isomers and relative ratios, to the unique targeted compound profile presented by certain PFAS contamination sources. Add to that, the judicious use of results from the Total Oxidizable Precursor (TOP) Assay and a reasonably good foundation has been established upon which to build a forensics discipline. If we now add the results of accurate mass qTOF, applied to targets, known/unknowns and unknown/unknowns, we are progressing towards a robust forensic profiling application. In addition to the limited libraries that have been obtained, we will show how we have assembled libraries from known sources (AFFF and other products) that can be used like a fingerprint, to borrow terminology from our petroleum hydrocarbon colleagues.

The presentation will describe the process that we went through in deriving a forensics based approached to identifying PFAS source/contributions. We will demonstrate how the various techniques complement each other towards source identification and how the use of some relatively standard statistical programs improve the strength of the analytical results and solidify the conclusions drawn from the data.