Detection of 40+ Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Non-potable Waters Using Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS).

Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the Environment
Poster Presentation

Prepared by A. Belunis, W. LaCourse
University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD, 21250, United States

Contact Information: [email protected]; 908-334-4997


Originally developed in the 1940s, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a large group of manufactured fluorinated compounds, have been used in a wide variety of applications ranging from nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, food packaging, firefighting foams, and even cosmetics. The prevalent use in consumer products and persistence in the environment has led to growing concern regarding PFAS exposure and human health. PFAS have leached into the air, soil, and water, making human exposure widespread, with the most likely sources of exposure coming from contaminated food or water. Historically, the focus of PFAS research has been on drinking water (EPA methods 537.1 and 533), the biggest source of human exposure. PFAS have also been found in non-potable waters (e.g., wastewater, groundwater), which if not treated or properly removed will remain in the environment furthering potential exposure. There is still a need to better understand the fate and transport of PFAS within the environment. Public concern regarding the level of these compounds in environmental sources has required laboratories to develop efficient and reproducible methods for routine analysis. Detection by LC-MS is necessary to reach the extremely low levels of these compounds present in the environment. Here we present an efficient, sensitive, and reproducible method for the detection of 40+ PFAS in non-potable sources.

The LC-MS/MS analysis of 40+ PFAS was performed using a PerkinElmer LX-50 ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) system coupled with a PerkinElmer Q-Sight 210 triple quadrupole mass spectrometer (MS/MS). Multiple reaction monitor (MRM) parameters were optimized for each compound and where possible a second qualifier transition was determined. An efficient liquid chromatography method was developed with a sample run time of 10 minutes. Working standards were used to create a calibration curve ranging from ~5-25,000 ng/L. Carbon cleanup and weak anion exchange solid phase extraction were utilized for sample preparation. Recovery studies were conducted to monitor accuracy and precision. Non-potable water sources were then collected from the Baltimore-Metro area. Validation studies showed that the method meets sensitivity, linearity, and repeatability requirements necessary for routine monitoring of PFAS in non-potable water sources.