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ChemCentre testing for emerging contaminants

ChemCentre testing for emerging contaminants

Date Published: 31-Mar-16

In response to the emerging contaminant issue associated with fire fighting foam, ChemCentre is now offering analysis services for PFOS/PFOA in water and soil samples.

History is full of examples where solutions to problems have, in turn, become problems in their own right – in chemical terms, think of DDT and the disposal of rubber tyres.

In recent years, evidence is indicating that the same may be said about perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which have been used in the manufacture of fire fighting foams and many other products used in Australia and around the world. 

PFOS/PFOA are man-made fluorosurfactants. Because of their unique lipid and water repellent characteristics, PFOS/PFOA have widespread applications, especially providing resistance to water and oil encroachment into a wide range of products such as clothes, carpet and paint. They were also used to manufacture aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), key ingredients in fire fighting foams.

However, PFOS/PFOA are extremely persistent in the environment and pose potentially adverse effects for the environment and human health due to their toxicity and bio-accumulating properties. In 2009, the Stockholm Convention added PFOS to the list of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

In response to this emerging contaminant issue, including multiple enquiries to our facility, ChemCentre has developed capabilities to analyse for PFOS/PFOA in water and soil samples. These compounds require very particular sampling protocols, as traditional sampling methods are likely to contain Teflon which is also a source of these compounds.

"We are continuing to increase the scope of analytes, or substances whose chemical composition need to be identified and measured, as the issue progresses,” said Ibrahim Jambol, Team Leader Residues at ChemCentre.

“It’s an evolving issue in terms of analysis values, and the regulatory frameworks on a state, national and international level are still being established. In the meantime, our service means we can help clients successfully identify any current or emerging issues.”

A sampling protocol for PFOS/PFOA is now available from ChemCentre, and for further details please contact Ibrahim Jambol on 08 9422 9919, or via enquiries@chemcentre.wa.gov.au.

[Image courtesy iStock/CRC-CARE]

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