As an important base for the chemical industry, Dordrecht has to deal with PFOA, a toxic substance in the PFAS group. Together with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the municipality instructed the Center of Expertise on PFAS to compile an action plan. Governments and problem owners were also consulted, with the aim of investigating whether PFAS substances are a problem and if so, how to deal with them.
PFAS (poly and perfluoroalkyl compounds) are contaminants from toxic fluorine compounds. Substances in the PFAS group, such as PFOA and PFOS, are used in a wide range of products, including fire extinguishing foam, Teflon and stain protection products. These substances do not break down; instead, they accumulate in the environment, which can severely damage the soil and water quality.
At the beginning of the study, Arcadis produced a technical information document detailing dust properties, toxicity, and research and remediation techniques. The research program then examined 25 sites for the presence of PFAS, using a sampling protocol that we developed and tested in-house. We also assisted with a study by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, in which the relative toxicity of the many PFAS compounds was assessed. This information was required to compile accurate risk assessments. In addition, we drew up an information document on the legal and policy aspects of reuse.
The final result of all these initiatives is a concise treatment strategy that clearly defines how governments should deal with PFAS in soil and groundwater. The project was a successful collaboration between the Center of Expertise on PFAS, the global network of specialists from Arcadis and various other relevant parties.