WHAT MUNICIPALITIES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PFAS

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In October 2021, the EPA announced that it would be initiating a program to educate the public about PFAS. As the agency puts this plan into action, city officials should expect more questions from local residents.

COMMON PFAS SOURCES

Evaluating your municipality for potential sources of PFAS is a great place to start assessing a potential PFAS problem.

AIRPORTS & DOD FACILITIES

The aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) used to fight aviation fires are a common source of PFAS contamination. After an emergency or training exercise, released AFFF can seep into the ground to contaminate soil and ground water. AFFF that enters the storm drainage system can also contaminate local surface waters and enter the public water systems.

FIREFIGHTING

AFFF is also used regularly to fight municipal fires involving flammable liquids. Although there are fluorine-free foams (FFF) available, they are slowly being phased in, and not all FFF are free from PFAS. Pace® can test both your legacy AFFF and newer stocks of FFF to determine how much and which PFAS they contain.

Has your city or town had a recent fire emergency? Our Rapid Response team can help you assess potential PFAS contamination.

LANDFILLS

Municipal and private landfills are another common source of PFAS contamination. As liquid (rain, condensation, liquid waste) passes through a landfill, it can leach PFAS from solid waste containing PFAS. Common examples include construction materials, carpeting, packaging, weather-proof clothing, and non-stick cookware. If the lining breaks down – or if the landfill was never lined – this leachate can contaminate surrounding soil and groundwater.

WASTEWATER TREATMENT

Storm sewers, industrial discharge, landfill leachate, and other non-potable liquids that can contain PFAS are often sent to the municipal wastewater treatment facility for processing. Unfortunately, traditional municipal wastewater treatment does not remove PFAS. In fact, it can convert PFAS precursors into PFAS, further compounding a local contamination issue

BIOSOLIDS

Roughly half of the domestic sewage sludge produced by wastewater treatment in the United States is applied to agriculture as biosolids. If these biosolids contain PFAS, contamination can enter the food chain and spread to local ground and surface waters. While this is particularly a concern for more rural communities, PFAS has also been found in some brands of organic fertilizers used by home gardeners.

COMMERCIAL INCINERATORS

Incineration has long-been a preferred method for disposing of industrial waste and chemical stockpiles. Unfortunately, new evidence suggests that “thermal destruction” isn’t as effective as once thought. Soil, ash, groundwater, and air samples taken from incinerator sites and surrounding neighborhoods have shown elevated levels of PFAS.
Here are four types of incinerators that may be contributing to a municipal PFAS contamination problem:

  • Industrial
  • Medical waste disposal
  • Domestic waste disposal
  • Sewage sludge incineration

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT

Looking for PFAS guidance you can share with a colleague? Download The Municipality’s Guide to PFAS Contamination and Testing for information on:

  • Reasons to Test for PFAS
  • The PFAS Regulatory Landscape
  • Sources of PFAS
  • Current Test Methods
  • Compound Lists
  • Sampling Best Practices

UCMR 5

The EPA’s fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) mandates are set to take effect in January 2023. All public water systems (PWS) serving 3,300 or more customers will be required to sample each entry point to the distribution system. The EPA will also select several hundred smaller PWS to participate as well. The UCMR 5 contaminants list includes 29 PFAS plus lithium.

PFAS TEST METHODS

Whether testing for drinking water compliance or public health and safety concerns, Pace® has the services you need. We offer testing services for a wide range of liquid and solid matrices, including potable & non-potable waters, leachate, solids, soil & sediment, stack emissions, and air. In addition to analyzing for targeted PFAS, we can also analyze matrices for total organofluorines and PFAS precursors.

REASONS TO CHOOSE PACE®

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EXPERIENCED

Pace® has been an industry leader in persistent organic pollutant testing for over three decades.
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CERTIFIED

We’re certified/accredited by NELAC, ISO, DOD, DOE, and in every state with a PFAS lab certification program.

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RELIABLE

For emergencies, our Rapid Response Team can provide defensible results in as little as 24 hours.

Committed

COMMITTED

We are committed to helping our customers advance their important work through building strong relationships, delivering upon expectations, and providing exceptional customer service.

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ADVANCED

We can test for PFAS in both solid and aqueous matrices, including potable and non-potable waters, soils, and biota.

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INNOVATIVE

We’re on the leading edge of science, working with EPA, DOD, ASTM, and others to develop new methods for analyzing PFAS.

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