Global PFAS Experts

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What are Pfas?

PFAS, or poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of engineered compounds. PFAS are comprised of thousands of manmade chemicals, and have been bulk-manufactured for use in a variety of other manufacturing processes or in commercial products themselves. PFAS were originally discovered in 1938 and their use in manufactured products has increased since that time, with a diverse range of products and applications using a variety of PFAS.

PFAS are used for their thermal stability, surfactant, and chemical-, oil-, and water-resistant properties in the manufacture of a variety of products. A notable example is the use of PFAS as a key component of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) and Fluoroprotein foams.

In recent years, advances in scientific knowledge and regulatory scrutiny, have contributed to a greater understanding and focus on PFAS site assessment, risk management, mitigation, and treatment

? PFAs

Where are PFAS Found?

PFAS were incorporated in both commercial and consumer products. This included:

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The Issue

  • Decades of the use and disposal of PFAS-containing products and manufacturing waste, coupled with their widespread use in firefighting foams, has led to their increasingly widespread presence in the environment, increasingly threatening drinking water supplies.

  • PFAS present some unique challenges as a result of their extreme persistence combined with high water solubility meaning they are mobile in the natural environment and so can impact drinking water supplies.

  • Management of PFAS poses challenges as a result of their unique chemistry and environmental behavior. Considering the regulatory scrutiny around PFAS and their links to various health effects, a global effort to identify sustainable management options is of the upmost importance. Arcadis is at the helm of providing clients with tailored solutions.

  • Arcadis is at the forefront of a global effort to sustainably manage PFAS. Arcadis is working with leading universities and technology providers to develop and apply innovative remediation solutions in four core materials: soil, water, concrete and firefighting foams.

The Issue

Decades of the use and disposal of PFAS-containing products and manufacturing waste, coupled with their widespread use in firefighting foams, has led to their increasingly widespread presence in the environment, increasingly threatening drinking water supplies.

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The Issue

PFAS present some unique challenges as a result of their extreme persistence combined with high water solubility meaning they are mobile in the natural environment and so can impact drinking water supplies.

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The Issue

Management of PFAS poses challenges as a result of their unique chemistry and environmental behavior. Considering the regulatory scrutiny around PFAS and their links to various health effects, a global effort to identify sustainable management options is of the upmost importance. Arcadis is at the helm of providing clients with tailored solutions.

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The Issue

Arcadis is at the forefront of a global effort to sustainably manage PFAS. Arcadis is working with leading universities and technology providers to develop and apply innovative remediation solutions in four core materials: soil, water, concrete and firefighting foams.

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Arcadis is at the forefront of a global effort to evaluate and remediate impacted sites and environments.

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SOLUTION
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Our Approach

Remediation

The remediation industry is on the cusp of major breakthroughs that will challenge conventional treatment methods and solve some of the most complex environmental issues.

At Arcadis, our scientists and engineers are designing the future of site evaluation and restoration by improving the application of existing tools, developing next-generation technologies, and overturning outdated scientific models to explore what is possible. Our focus on increasing the certainty of outcomes, attaining sustainability and achieving business objectives is driving innovation in the industry.

Environmental Business Consulting

Our Environmental Business Consulting services help identify and manage risks on a proactive, efficient and cost-effective basis. This includes:

  • Assessment of potential ecological and human health risks
  • Consultation on compliance, merger and acquisition, capital investment, and performance and sustainability issues
  • Development of response programs and community outreach strategies

Site Evaluation and Restoration

Our industry-leading scientists and engineers are redefining the possibilities of Site Evaluation and Restoration. They achieve this through:

  • Investigation and evaluation of contaminated sites
  • Development of cost-effective site management strategies
  • Design and implementation of optimised remediation treatments

Hydrogeological Services

Our team of qualified hydrogeologists have expertise in both contaminated sites and water resources. Our service offering includes:

  • Dewatering studies
  • Pumping tests and analysis
  • Groundwater supply and water resource evaluation
  • Groundwater impact assessments
  • Groundwater fate and transport modelling

PFAS containing Class-B firefighting foams, such as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) and Fluoroprotein Foams were extremely common in previous decades. These firefighting foams historically contain fluorine which is increasingly regulated and may pose a possible risk to drinking water.

Our Solutions

Taking a proactive approach to the scrutiny that now accompanies the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foams, Arcadis can offer several solutions and alternatives. For example, Arcadis can help in the transition from PFAS-AFFF to fluorine free foams, or in the cleaning process related to this transition. Firefighting foam transition and management projects are underway in the US, EU-UK, and Australia for airports, aerospace, and defense sector clients.

Download Brochure
  • Firefighting Foam Chemistry and Regulations

    Class-B firefighting foam chemistry has evolved over time and varies by manufacturer. Arcadis’ product stewardship group has a detailed understanding of foam chemistry, how to assess foams for PFAS that may be difficult to detect with standard methods, and how historical and current foam ingredients may be subject to regulations across many global jurisdictions.

  • Firefighting Foam replacement

    Arcadis helps transition to fluorine-free foams (F3), so risk of contamination is completely reduced. F3 foams are popular in Europe and Asia, as they are biodegradable and eliminate the possibility for future environmental liabilities. In the US, the FAA passed legislation in 2018 allowing for the transition to F3 at all major airports.

  • PFAS transition program

    While many Class-B firefighting foams no longer contain PFOS or PFOA, they do contain other PFAS that may be subject to future regulations. A complete transition to fluorine-free foams (F3) has therefore been requested by some clients to reduce ongoing or future risks of contamination. Foam transition requires a thorough cleanout of the previous foam material to avoid cross-contamination with newly introduced F3 material. A traditional triple water rinsate applied to foam infrastructure and piping has been a standard procurement approach, but this has proven inadequate in completely removing PFAS or greatly reducing the likelihood of longer-term leaching of PFAS from older infrastructure. Arcadis has developed and applied a cleaning agent to aid in removing PFAS residuals adsorbed to surfaces of metallic, concrete, or ceramic infrastructure.

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foam

With the high mobility of PFAS, it is possible that the chemical can be found in concrete and manmade structures. Due to the porous nature of concrete, PFAS can diffuse and partition into concrete and self-assemble on concrete surfaces, especially after years or decades of contact with Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) in fire training.

Our Solutions

While remediation of existing concrete infrastructure can be challenging, Arcadis regularly partners with technology vendors and clients to provide expert consultancy and advisory services in this area, working to develop practical management strategies.

Download Brochure
  • Surface Sealants

    Arcadis regularly liaises with technology vendors utilizing a variety of licensed proprietary technologies which, when applied to concrete can create surface barriers to stabilize PFAS and prevent long term leaching. These products can be sprayed on or applied as a paste to concrete infrastructure.

Concrete

With the high mobility of PFAS, its presence in water is increasingly common. Protecting drinking water is the primary objective of regulators, and often the initial PFAS-related regulations in a given jurisdiction will focus on protecting the public. Bodies of water can become contaminated with PFAS through runoff or percolation of rain water through PFAS-impacted soils and infrastructure into the environment.

Our Solutions

"Arcadis has significant global expertise in the treatment of PFAS-impacted groundwater, surface water and drinking water. In the past 15 years, Arcadis' water team have designed and installed approximately 30 large-scale water treatment systems worldwide using a variety of technologies."

Download Brochure
  • Adsorption

    Adsorption techniques work by using an adsorptive media, such as granular activated carbon (GAC) or ion exchange resins (IX), to attract and capture PFAS compounds from water onto the surface of the adsorptive media. Adsorption technologies provide a relatively quick and lower capital cost remedial option. . However, adsorptive media may only treat some of the PFAS present in the water stream, and the carrying cost (i.e., operation and maintenance) to maintain this treatment technology long term can be onerous. There is usually an upside to evaluating PFAS water treatment from a treatment train perspective in order to increase efficiency and lower longer term cumulative costs.

  • Emerging Technologies

    Arcadis is actively collaborating globally with academics and military agencies to develop and optimize water treatment for a wide range of PFAS. Our water treatment strategy focuses on separating or adsorbing PFAS from an impacted water stream into an increasingly lower volume PFAS waste concentrate that is then destroyed using secondary treatment processes. The treated water can then be safely used or discharged. Our R&D efforts include developing more selective adsorbents that require less pretreatment, separating PFAS from water with foam fractionation, and working on new destructive approaches to treating PFAS-impacted concentrates with electron beam and Sonolysis. Multiple innovative approaches may be needed to treat the variety of PFAS encountered on differing sites.

  • Foam Fractionation

    Developed by Evocra in partnership with Arcadis, the process of foam fractionation can remove elevated levels of PFAS present with a variety of other co-contaminants that would otherwise require pre-treatment with conventional approaches. By exploiting the tendency of specific PFAS to partition to the gas-liquid interface, foam fractionation attracts and concentrates PFAS in a resultant foam, which is separated from the treated water. Foam fractionation can achieve greater than 99.9% removal of PFAS, and can provide advantages for groundwater or wastewater streams that are co-polluted with other ions or organics that make off the shelf adsorption technology extremely inefficient, expensive and potentially impossible.

WATER-FG

WATER

PFAS impacted soil may result in PFAS migration in to surface and groundwater. Characterization of soil PFAS impacts in source areas and, if appropriate, soil remediation, is often key to understand fate and transport and develop strategies to limit PFAS migration and risk.

Our Solutions

Sending PFAS-impacted soils off site to a landfill is increasingly either an expensive solution, or potentially a strategy that results in long term liabilities. In many countries, it is no longer a viable option. Arcadis focuses on providing safer and cost-effective solutions, applying their innovation to several key methods:

Download Brochure
  • Soil Stabilization

    Stabilization of PFAS in soil can be achieved by applying fixing agents to the soil, such as organoclay, activated carbon, or other proprietary soil amendments. Stabilization can reduce or prevent PFAS leaching from soil, effectively minimizing the risk factor related to disposing (unstabilized) soils off site in a landfill or managing them on site in a containment strategy.

  • Soil washing

    Soil washing is a separation process that employs a range of physical and chemical techniques to remove PFAS from soils. Washing is done by transferring PFAS into the liquid phase, where it can be more readily treated or concentrated using a variety of water treatment technologies. Once treated, the washed soil may then be suitable for reuse.

  • onsite management/ containment options

    Regulatory hierarchy of management options for soils usually prefer onsite management options before offsite treatment or disposal. Onsite options could take the form of onsite caps and/or containment cells.

    Arcadis engineers and scientists have extensive experience in the design and construction of caps and containment cells that can be used in conjunction with the above treatment options.

  • Onsite Thermal Treatment

    Multiple thermal treatment options are increasingly available for the management of PFAS in soil. Some commercially offered techniques apply elevated temperatures to soil in an onsite treatment unit to desorb the PFAS into a separate phase such as a vapor or liquid. The PFAS concentrate can then be thermally destroyed at an even higher temperature or disposed. Thermal treatment of soil may require special permitting considerations and a plan for managing emissions to avoid unintended PFAS releases to air.

SOIL-FG

SOIL

foam

PFAS containing Class-B firefighting foams, such as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) and Fluoroprotein Foams were extremely common in previous decades. These firefighting foams historically contain fluorine which is increasingly regulated and may pose a possible risk to drinking water.

Our Solutions

Taking a proactive approach to the scrutiny that now accompanies the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foams, Arcadis can offer several solutions and alternatives. For example, Arcadis can help in the transition from PFAS-AFFF to fluorine free foams, or in the cleaning process related to this transition. Firefighting foam transition and management projects are underway in the US, EU-UK, and Australia for airports, aerospace, and defense sector clients.

Download Brochure
  • Firefighting Foam Chemistry and Regulations

    Class-B firefighting foam chemistry has evolved over time and varies by manufacturer. Arcadis’ product stewardship group has a detailed understanding of foam chemistry, how to assess foams for PFAS that may be difficult to detect with standard methods, and how historical and current foam ingredients may be subject to regulations across many global jurisdictions.

  • Firefighting Foam replacement

    Arcadis helps transition to fluorine-free foams (F3), so risk of contamination is completely reduced. F3 foams are popular in Europe and Asia, as they are biodegradable and eliminate the possibility for future environmental liabilities. In the US, the FAA passed legislation in 2018 allowing for the transition to F3 at all major airports.

  • PFAS transition program

    While many Class-B firefighting foams no longer contain PFOS or PFOA, they do contain other PFAS that may be subject to future regulations. A complete transition to fluorine-free foams (F3) has therefore been requested by some clients to reduce ongoing or future risks of contamination. Foam transition requires a thorough cleanout of the previous foam material to avoid cross-contamination with newly introduced F3 material. A traditional triple water rinsate applied to foam infrastructure and piping has been a standard procurement approach, but this has proven inadequate in completely removing PFAS or greatly reducing the likelihood of longer-term leaching of PFAS from older infrastructure. Arcadis has developed and applied a cleaning agent to aid in removing PFAS residuals adsorbed to surfaces of metallic, concrete, or ceramic infrastructure.

Concrete

With the high mobility of PFAS, it is possible that the chemical can be found in concrete and manmade structures. Due to the porous nature of concrete, PFAS can diffuse and partition into concrete and self-assemble on concrete surfaces, especially after years or decades of contact with Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) in fire training.

Our Solutions

While remediation of existing concrete infrastructure can be challenging, Arcadis regularly partners with technology vendors and clients to provide expert consultancy and advisory services in this area, working to develop practical management strategies.

Download Brochure
  • Surface Sealants

    Arcadis regularly liaises with technology vendors utilizing a variety of licensed proprietary technologies which, when applied to concrete can create surface barriers to stabilize PFAS and prevent long term leaching. These products can be sprayed on or applied as a paste to concrete infrastructure.

Water

The widespread global use of PFAS compounds for a variety of purposes, combined with their high mobility and persistent nature, have led to widespread distribution in both surface and groundwater in the environment.

PFAS impacts to surface and groundwater may occur as a result of the historic, and in some cases ongoing, use of PFAS-containing products, such as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF). Sites where PFAS-containing AFFF were used or stored represent a high percentage of known PFAS-impacted sites.

Other potential sources of PFAS impact to surface and groundwater include leachate from landfills, water treatment plant wastes, runoff from urban catchments, and releases from industrial areas. Water is the key transport pathway for PFAS to migrate from source areas to areas where human health or ecological receptors may be impacted.

Our Solutions

Arcadis has significant global experience in the treatment of PFAS-contaminated surface and groundwater. Our team of experts has designed and installed large-scale PFAS water treatment systems worldwide using a variety of technologies, and offers several potential water treatment options.

Download Brochure
  • SonolysisTM

    Sonolysis™ is an innovative technique for PFAS-impacted water or liquid waste, which Arcadis is currently developing with an international team of scientists. The process uses ultrasonic waves to break down PFAS compounds through the creation of microbubbles in a fluid. These microbubbles oscillate and collapse, releasing significant energy that can be used to destroy a wide range of PFAS compounds.

    Arcadis is working to further develop and eventually bring this technology to market as a viable commercial remedial option for PFAS contamination in water.

  • Ozofractionation

    Developed by Evocra in partnership with Arcadis, the process of ozofractionation can remove a large range of PFAS compounds from water and is effective in the presence of a variety of other contaminants. By exploiting the tendency of PFAS to partition to the gas-liquid interface, ozofractionation attracts PFAS compounds and concentrates them in a resultant foam. This foam is then separated from the treated water and subjected to secondary treatment to further concentrate the PFAS contaminants.

    The ozofractionation process can achieve greater than 99.9% removal of PFAS, significantly reducing the volume of contaminated water.

  • Adsorption

    Adsorption techniques work by using an adsorptive media, such as granular activated carbon (GAC) or ion exchange resins (AX), to attract and capture PFAS compounds from water to the surface of the adsorptive media. Adsorption technologies provide a relatively quick and cost-effective remedial option, representing a lower-risk treatment solution. However, selection of the most appropriate sorbent requires consideration of a wide range of site-specific factors and wastes generated by the treatment process may require separate management and/or remediation at additional cost.

Soil

PFAS impacted soil may result in PFAS migration in to surface and groundwater. Characterization of soil PFAS impacts in source areas and, if appropriate, soil remediation, is often key to understand fate and transport and develop strategies to limit PFAS migration and risk.

Our Solutions

Sending PFAS-impacted soils off site to a landfill is increasingly either an expensive solution, or potentially a strategy that results in long term liabilities. In many countries, it is no longer a viable option. Arcadis focuses on providing safer and cost-effective solutions, applying their innovation to several key methods:

Download Brochure
  • Soil immobilisation

    Stabilization of PFAS in soil can be achieved by applying fixing agents to the soil, such as organoclay, activated carbon, or other proprietary soil amendments. Stabilization can reduce or prevent PFAS leaching from soil, effectively minimizing the risk factor related to disposing (unstabilized) soils off site in a landfill or managing them on site in a containment strategy.

  • Soil washing

    Soil washing is a separation process that employs a range of physical and chemical techniques to remove PFAS from soils. Washing is done by transferring PFAS into the liquid phase, where it can be more readily treated or concentrated using a variety of water treatment technologies. Once treated, the washed soil may then be suitable for reuse.

  • onsite management/ containment options

    Regulatory hierarchy of management options for soils usually prefer onsite management options before offsite treatment or disposal. Onsite options could take the form of onsite caps and/or containment cells.

    Arcadis engineers and scientists have extensive experience in the design and construction of caps and containment cells that can be used in conjunction with the above treatment options.

  • Onsite Thermal Treatment

    Multiple thermal treatment options are increasingly available for the management of PFAS in soil. Some commercially offered techniques apply elevated temperatures to soil in an onsite treatment unit to desorb the PFAS into a separate phase such as a vapor or liquid. The PFAS concentrate can then be thermally destroyed at an even higher temperature or disposed. Thermal treatment of soil may require special permitting considerations and a plan for managing emissions to avoid unintended PFAS releases to air.

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