Superfund Research Program
Developing Passive Samplers for the Detection and Bioaccumulation of PFASs in Water and Porewater
Project Leader: Rainer Lohmann
Grant Number: P42ES027706
Funding Period: 2017-2022
The Developing Passive Samplers for the Detection and Bioaccumulation of PFASs in Water and Porewater Project started with testing different sampling materials for the accumulation of per- and poly-fluorinated organic contaminants. The researchers’ first testing with polyethylene indicates that they can use these cheap polymer sheets to accumulate and quantify volatile and neutral poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs), some of which break down into more toxic and persistent PFASs. In future work, they will determine the exact mechanisms of uptake into these samplers, and how they can use them to derive average concentrations in the environment, both in air and water. The utility of such samplers is that they can potentially be used to monitor PFAS exposure among people inside their homes, presumably stemming from consumer products. This tool can be used in conjunction with the Community Engagement Core to involve exposed communities and give them tools to better assess various exposure routes to these contaminants. The Project has also begun field-testing sampling tools for PFASs dissolved in natural waters, initially in Narragansett Bay, across a wide range of sampling stations. The researchers aim to characterize the sampling tools ability to accumulate PFASs, so that they can use them to detect time-integrated concentrations of PFASs in contaminated water bodies and to identify potential hotspots and sources of these contaminants. The benefit of these low-cost sampling tools is their versatility and ease-of-use, enabling the researchers to share them with communities of interest to assess the presence of and exposure to PFASs, to ultimately reduce exposure and advance public health.