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The Trouble with PFAS in Drinking Water

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There has been a string of news articles concerning polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water these days, and I must say, they have my attention. Here is the thing, when you think of drinking water in the United States, for example, crystal clear lakes, rivers, and groundwater along with effective water treatment come to mind. On the flip side, as safe, some supplies may be there are communities such as that of Flint, Michigan, which have been dealing with lead filled pipes for far too long. Contamination was so bad there that residents were provided bottled water for drinking purposes as the state decided who was responsible for replacing the affected water lines.

However, it is not just Flint, Michigan that suffers from poor water quality. Take articles like, “Whidbey Island Drinking Water Polluted with Firefighting Chemicals,” which describes how not nice substances like PFAS, whose physicochemical properties make them important for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products including firefighting foam, have been found in soil and ground water. A problem, since even years later the contaminant managed to find its way into private wells thereby making people sick. Useful for industries, not so much for humans since PFAS have been implicated in the incidence of cancer, obesity, endocrine system disruption, and other adverse health effects.

Although the EPA does not regulate private wells, lab tests in Whidbey turned up levels 35 times more than the allowable standards. In a separate report from a Harvard study it is estimated as much as six million Americans might be affected by PFA contaminated water even though in 2015, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a global stewardship program to phase out PFA from emissions and products. As a Food, Environment, and Forensic Scientist and a human being, I wonder along with my SCIEX partners and clients, what more can we do to test for such harmful matter as PFAS at low levels so we can help keep the public safe.

For you fellow scientists who wish to get into testing this PFA business, download the tech note by filling out the form on the right to read about two methods for the quantitation of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) in water samples. While the MS/MS detection method using the SCIEX Triple Quad™ 5500 is similar between the two approaches, sample preparation and injection volume differ significantly.

I invite you to discover the advantages of each method including compatibility to EPA Method 537 and the ever important, straightforward sample preparation. With the growing need for PFAS analysis of environmental samples, these versatile methods will be most useful for labs aiming to evaluate growing lists of PFAS.Read the Tech Note >

Learn More About Drinking Water Testing >

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Philip Taylor, Sr Manager, Strategic Marketing, Applied Markets & Software - SCIEX

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