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University of Rhode Island

Superfund Research Program

Passive Samplers in Support of Remediation, Detection and Bioaccumulation of PFAS

Project Leader: Rainer Lohmann
Co-Investigator: Thomas B. Boving
Grant Number: P42ES027706
Funding Period: 2022-2027
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Project Summary (2022-2027)

This research project develops, validates, field-tests and deploys passive sampling tools for per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) in water, biota, air and dust. The field-validation and applications of passive samplers offer several key advances for the detection of PFAS including (i) assessment of relevant human exposure via time-weighted average concentrations, (ii) aiding in identifying the extent of site contamination, and (iii) remediation via simple adsorbents and reliable monitoring tools that can be deployed before, during, and following remediation to verify success.

This project offers several innovative research components to address knowledge gaps surrounding environmental exposure to legacy and novel PFAS, and to provide novel tools to stakeholders. For example, the team aims to develop a simple, but effective filter for PFAS in groundwater, and use their passive samplers to monitor a field-based ex situ remediation trial for PFAS in groundwater on Cape Cod (Aim 1). The researchers simultaneously characterize PFAS bioaccumulation in wildlife and field-test passive samplers in the Delaware River (Aim 2), while using passive samplers to measure the biotransformation and bioaccumulation of PFAS in controlled laboratory exposures. This project also contributes unique tools and data on PFAS in outdoor and indoor air, and dust to inform PFAS exposure assessment (Aim 3).

The researchers collaborate with Assessing the Contribution of Polyfluoroalkyl Precursors to Diverse PFAS Exposures near Contaminated Sites to assess the importance of atmospheric transport of PFAS, another research gap and significant need for the Center’s stakeholders (Aim 3). This project thereby addresses the SRP’s mandates of developing methods to reduce the amount and toxicity of hazardous substances and methods and technologies to detect hazardous substances in the environment.

The work of this project is well-integrated with the other research projects and cores: it maintains strong links with Assessing the Contribution of Polyfluoroalkyl Precursors to Diverse PFAS Exposures near Contaminated Sites, with a joint focus on bioaccumulation, and the use of passive samplers for indoor and outdoor air sampling of PFAS; works with Mechanisms of Exposure on chemical analysis of PFAS and shares mixture profiles of PFAS in cell assays and rodent models; works with Critical Effects Associated with Developmental PFAS Exposure Profiles to assess the contribution of indoor air and dust to PFAS exposure in the Faroe Islands relative to seafood consumption as part of principal investigator Rainer Lohmann’s Fulbright Arctic Initiative fellowship; and exchanges samples with Assessing the Contribution of Polyfluoroalkyl Precursors to Diverse PFAS Exposures near Contaminated Sites to compare the results of extractable organofluorine (EOF) analysis and perform non-target analysis for the other projects.

Lastly, this project works with the Center’s research translation team, states, and U.S. EPA to disseminate results and applications of passive samplers for PFASs to state and federal agencies; with the Data Management and Analysis Core on adhering to FAIR data principles and statistical analysis of the results; with the Community Engagement Core on indoor air, dust, fish/shellfish and local grown food analysis on Cape Cod; and with the Research Experience and Training Coordination Core and the trainee action teams on joint research exchanges, activities, and policy initiatives.

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