How much PFAS is in landfills? Where does it come from? What happens to the PFAS? We are committed to shedding light on these important and interesting questions! SGS Product Director and PFAS expert Bharat Chandramouli collaborated on an innovative study on PFAS in landfills and co-authored a journal article titled, “PFAS in municipal landfill leachate: Occurrence, transformation, and sources.” This Chemosphere Journal (Capozzi et al. 2023) publication sheds light on the presence and origins of PFAS in landfill leachate across multiple landfills in Washington state.
As PFAS continue to raise concerns worldwide, this article represents a collaborative effort between SGS and a multi-disciplinary research team from Indiana University, Rutgers University and the Washington State Department of Ecology. The authors measured 40 different PFAS using an SGS-developed method that eventually became the EPA 1633 Draft. In addition, some of the samples also analyzed using a quality-enhanced Total Oxidizable Precursor Assay (TOP) to understand and quantify the presence of all the uncharacterized PFAS (known as precursors) that can transform into persistent perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAA) over time.
The researchers then combined the data from target and TOP analysis in an innovative factor analysis statistical model to unearth the sources of these PFAS and the transformations occurring in the landfills. The study found PFAS levels ranging from 61-173,000 ng/L. The use of TOP revealed that “little or no uncharacterized precursors remained in the landfill leachate”, as opposed to biosolids or effluents from wastewater treatment plants where TOP analysis reveals high-levels of uncharacterized PFAA precursors.
“The Washington State landfill study fills an important gap on the statewide occurrence and levels of PFAS in landfills, where much of our PFAS-containing solid waste ends up,” says Dr. Bharat Chandramouli. “We are happy to have collaborated on this study that featured an innovative factor analysis technique combining target PFAS analysis and TOP data to shed insight on the sources of PFAS in the leachate.”
“SGS’ two-decade leadership on PFAS measurement and our experienced emerging contaminants scientists are key to the success of such complex PFAS studies”, Dr. Chandramouli adds.
Working on innovative studies and co-authoring key publications allows us to advance the science and provide up-to-date information on key issues impacting the environment.
Bharat Chandramouli, Ph.D. is a senior scientist with 20+ years of experience in the occurrence, fate and transport of persistent organic pollutants and contaminants of emerging concern. He is a published author on several peer-review articles and book chapters on atmospheric chemistry, air pollution, PFAS measurement, PPCP occurrence and more.