What are PFAS?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals that are considered emerging contaminants, of which perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are the most common. PFAS have been used since the 1950s by a variety of industries and are found in a variety of common products such as fire-fighting aqueous film forming foams (AFFF), non-stick cookware, waterproofing products, certain waxes (e.g., ski waxes), textiles and shoes, electronics, automotive components, food packaging, certain makeups and beauty products, and electroplating.

Studies have begun to show long term health risks from these resilient bio-accumulating compounds. New information regarding the health effects and their pervasive presence in the environment is being generated as the assessment of these compounds expands within the scientific community.

Learn More – Frequently Asked Questions:

How do PFAS contaminants enter the environment?

PFAS can enter the environment through various pathways. Some common routes of entry include:

  • AFFF from fire-fighting training facilities or fire response sites
  • Landfills, waste disposal sites, or wastewater facilities that accepted PFAS-containing waste streams
  • Industrial facilities that manufactured PFAS or utilized PFAS-containing materials in their products
  • Agricultural runoff from farms that accepted biosolids from municipal wastewater treatment plants which unknowingly treated PFAS-containing wastewater

Are PFAS a concern for me?

An Emerging Contaminants Review evaluating historic property uses and facility operations, historical on-site or nearby fires, available printed records such as safety data sheets for chemicals stored or used, environmental media analytical data, and other potential sources of site-specific information is a first step in determining the potential for PFAS at your facility. The information obtained can be used to discuss the relative risk and determine the need for additional assessment.

What are the applicable regulations?

Federal and State standards have been evolving in recent years and continue to do so. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has been introducing regulatory actions and proposed standards for PFAS, many individual states have developed strategies for laboratory testing, investigation protocols, and cleanup standards. However, not all states are taking similar measures to address PFAS, with some states having been very aggressive in their approaches to determining if PFAS are present in the environment while other states have been waiting for further guidance from the Federal level.

How Can Sigma Help?

Sigma can help you navigate the current State and Federal regulations, or proposed rules, and provide guidance on your environmental project involving PFAS. We are well-versed in performing Emerging Contaminants Reviews, conducting field sampling, interpreting data, and understanding potential risks and liabilities unique to your situation. Contact us – Sigma will work with your team, including legal counsel, to evaluate a strategic path forward to help manage your potential liability.

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