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PFAS at the UK Environment Agency
Dr Alun James –PFAS lead for the
Chemicals Programme
Alun.james@environment-agency.gov.uk
PFAS working Group
A team of specialists in contaminated land, water quality, regulatory
approaches, toxicology, data analysis and more
Main role
• Coordinate PFAS related work undertaken by the Environment Agency
• Better understand the risks posed by PFAS
• Provide legislative steer and inform policy
The issue is cross-cutting and requires collaboration across government and
internal and external stakeholders.
Contents
PFAS risks and identifying source sites
Surveillance monitoring
Approaches to PFAS risk management
Potential Source Sites and risk screening
Risk screening assessment to
understand legacy sources
Multi-criteria analysis
undertaken in desktop GIS to
‘score’ potential source sites
National scale
Risk posed by certain site types
Connectivity to receptors
Main Source Sites
• Air transport sites
• Fire stations
• Landfills
• CoMAH sites (Hazardous
sites)
Groundwater Risk Surface Water Risk
PFAS risk map
Environmental Monitoring
5
Surveillance programme
• Monitoring of 43 PFAS
• 2000 sites per annum
• Groundwater and Surface Water
• Freshwater and saline fish
Development and forward look
• Total Oxidisable Precursor Assay
• Trifluoroacetic acid
• NTS
• Method development
• Sediments and soil
PFAS detection rates
6
Groundwater
Detection
Rate %
Surface
water
Detection
rate %
PFBA C4HF7O2 PFCA 21 71
PFPeA C5HF9O2 PFCA 13 63
PFHxA C6HF11O2 PFCA 17 67
PFHpA C7HF13O2 PFCA 8 47
PFOA C8HF15O2 PFCA 27 71
PFNA C9HF17O2 PFCA 1 5
PFDA C10HF19O2 PFCA 1 1
PFBS C4HF9O3S PFSA 16 61
PFPeS C5HF11O3S PFSA 5 21
PFHxS C6HF13O3S PFSA 18 27
PFHpS C7HF15O3S PFSA 2 1
PFOS C8HF17O3S PFSA 16 65
6:2 FTSA C8H5F13O3S FTSA 24 23
FBSA C4H2F9NO2S FASA 5 40
PFecHS C8F15HO3S PFSA 1 12
FHxSA C6H2F13NO2S FASA 1 6
• Approximately 60% of Groundwaters do
not contain PFAS
• Approximately 75% of surface water
contain PFAS
• Main hotspots are related to AFFF
PFAS Risk Management
7
Permitting
Environmental permitting regulations requires operators of “regulated facilities”
to obtain a permit or to register some activities.
• Protect the environment;
• Assess compliance with standards;
• Encourage best practice
Uncertainties the fate, behaviour and risks posed make regulating PFAS difficult.
To ensure we are making informed decisions we request detailed information
about a facility or activity.
PFAS Risk Management
8
• Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016 - Regulation 61(1)
• Legal requirement to provide information.
• Site Survey (Site history, drainage plans, review of current permits,
identification of source sites and discharges).
• Screening – (analytical testing to confirm presence of any PFAS) procedure
for review
• Monitoring Programme Plan (monitor your discharges and receiving waters
over a minimum of 12 months)
• Surface Water Risk Assessment - bespoke risk assessment
• Outcomes may include a need for treatment.
9
Land contamination risk management
Relevant to land being developed (or redeveloped) under the planning system
The lack of understanding of PFAS makes assessing PFAS risks and liabilities
difficult. In the absence of evidence and data, a precautionary approach is
advisable to ensure protection of human health and the environment.
Provides a means of dealing with risks posed by land contamination. Key
principals are:
• Identify and assess if there is an unacceptable risk - human health;
environment; controlled waters.
• Assess what remediation options are suitable to manage the risk
• Plan and carry out remediation
Part 2A Environmental Protection Act 1990
• EA can support the Council in identifying contaminated land in their area
• Decide if any such land should also be designated as a Special Site.
• A Special Site is where the Environment Agency takes on regulatory control
from the local authority.
PFAS Risk Management
10
• Stage 1 Risk Assessment:
• Inform regulatory decisions
• Scientifically-based
• A site walkover and a desk study.
• A robust, site specific Conceptual Site Model (CSM)
• Generic Quantitative Risk Assessment (GQRA)
• Drinking Water, Surface Water, groundwater, ecological risk
• Detailed Quantitative Risk Assessment (DQRA)
• Ambient/background concentrations, PFAS present, extent of plume of pollution, use of appropriate
modelling tools.
• Stage 2 Options Appraisal
• Selection of applicable and available market-ready remediation technologies - currently limited.
• PFAS also differ in chemical and physical properties from conventional contaminants
• Stage 3 Remediation and Verification
• Remediation Technologies – disposal, stabilisation, treatment/ incineration, capping, washing,
filtration, sorbtion, fractionation, sequestration
• Influencing factors, PFAS present, co-contaminants, waste generation, durability, regulatory
objectives, sustainability.
• Disposal options management of waste generated also need to be carefully considered,
• Long-term monitoring
PFAS Risk Management
11
Case study
A large part of the site was a former petrochemical site, from 1946 up until the
1980s.
Sources
• Former fire station; Fire training areas; Fire incidents;
• Concrete - absorb and accumulate PFAS and act as a reservoir
Pathways
• Direct contact with soil, leaching of contaminants and discharge of groundwater
to surface waters.
• Bioaccumulation of PFAS through food chain, - fish in nearby river or
groundwater used to irrigate crops or for livestock watering.
Receptors
• The site has shallow secondary aquifer, and a deeper aquifer located in the
sandstone bedrock - hydraulic continuity between them.
• There are rivers located 130m north and 150m east,
• A drainage channel connects the site with the river located to the north.
• Groundwater abstractions are located 850m
Remediation Options
• Options appraisal - two main options: pump and treat with various ex-situ
treatment technologies (membrane filtration, anion exchange, GAC)
• Passive in-situ treatment comprising a permeable activated carbon barrier.
12
PFAS Resources and guidance
Source document Link
Strategies for grouping per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to protect
human and environmental health (Cousins, I., et al , 2020)
https://doi.org/10.1039/D0EM001 47C
European Commission (May 2021) JRC Technical Reports. Per-and polyfluoroalkyl
substances (PFAS) of possible concern in the aquatic environment
JRC Publications Repository - Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
(PFAS) of possible concern in the aquatic environment (europa.eu)
Environment Agency (August 2021) Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS):
Sources, pathways and environmental data
Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): sources, pathways and
environmental data - report (publishing.service.gov.uk)
CL:AIRE (February 2019) Managing Risks and Liabilities associate with Per- and
Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs). Technical Bulletin 19 (TB19)
https://www.claire.co.uk/informati on-centre/cl-
airepublications?start=14
CL:AIRE (March 2023) An overview of the uses of PFAS to assist with the
identification of sites of concern. Technical Bulleting 23 (TB23)
https://www.claire.co.uk/home/ne ws/1782-pfas-bulletin
OECD (2021) Reconciling Terminology of the Universe of Per and Polyfluoroalkyl
Substances: Recommendations and Practical Guidance. Series on Risk
Management No. 61
Reconciling Terminology of the Universe of Per- and
Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: Recommendations and Practical
Guidance (oecd.org)
OECD (2022) OECD Environment, Health and Safety Publications Series on Risk
Management No. 68. Fact Cards of Major Groups of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl
Substances (PFAS).
https://one.oecd.org/document/e nv/cbc/mono(2022)1/en/pdf
Envirotech Online (April 16 2022) Understanding Fate and Transport of PFAS to
develop Effective Management Plans
Understanding Fate and Transport of PFAS to Develop Effective
Management Plans - Apr 01 2022 -Ian Ross - Environmental
Science News Articles - Envirotech Online (envirotech-online.com)
ITRC (Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council). 2022. PFAS Technical and
Regulatory Guidance Document and Fact Sheets PFAS-1. Washington, D.C.:
Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council, PFAS Team
2.2 Chemistry, Terminology, and Acronyms – PFAS — Per- and
Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (itrcweb.org)
An overview of the uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
(Glüge J, 2020)
An overview of the uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
(PFAS) - PubMed (nih.gov)
HSE (April 2023) Analysis of the most appropriate regulatory management
options (RMOA)
Analysis of the most appropriate regulatory management options
(hse.gov.uk)
NORMAN Suspect List Exchange – NORMAN SLE NORMAN Suspect List Exchange (norman-network.com)
Land contamination: Technical guidance - Land contamination: technical guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Ciria - Guidance on Perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) in soil and water
environments (RP1145) Pending
Perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) in soil and water
environments (ciria.org)
Concawe - Review of water treatment systems for PFAS removal https://www.concawe.eu/publication/review-of-water-treatment-
systems-for-pfas-removal/
Forward look
13
• Global background concentration –
soil, air, water
• Standard test methods relevant to
legislation
• Toxicology - Chronic exposure to
mobile less fluorinated PFAS
• Fluorotelomers – the accumulation of
6:2FTS, PFPeA, PFHxA
Wood Environment &
infrastructure solutions UK
Limited

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OECD Global Forum on the Environment dedicated to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: PFAS at the UK Environment Agency | James Alun

  • 1. PFAS at the UK Environment Agency Dr Alun James –PFAS lead for the Chemicals Programme Alun.james@environment-agency.gov.uk
  • 2. PFAS working Group A team of specialists in contaminated land, water quality, regulatory approaches, toxicology, data analysis and more Main role • Coordinate PFAS related work undertaken by the Environment Agency • Better understand the risks posed by PFAS • Provide legislative steer and inform policy The issue is cross-cutting and requires collaboration across government and internal and external stakeholders. Contents PFAS risks and identifying source sites Surveillance monitoring Approaches to PFAS risk management
  • 3. Potential Source Sites and risk screening Risk screening assessment to understand legacy sources Multi-criteria analysis undertaken in desktop GIS to ‘score’ potential source sites National scale Risk posed by certain site types Connectivity to receptors Main Source Sites • Air transport sites • Fire stations • Landfills • CoMAH sites (Hazardous sites)
  • 4. Groundwater Risk Surface Water Risk PFAS risk map
  • 5. Environmental Monitoring 5 Surveillance programme • Monitoring of 43 PFAS • 2000 sites per annum • Groundwater and Surface Water • Freshwater and saline fish Development and forward look • Total Oxidisable Precursor Assay • Trifluoroacetic acid • NTS • Method development • Sediments and soil
  • 6. PFAS detection rates 6 Groundwater Detection Rate % Surface water Detection rate % PFBA C4HF7O2 PFCA 21 71 PFPeA C5HF9O2 PFCA 13 63 PFHxA C6HF11O2 PFCA 17 67 PFHpA C7HF13O2 PFCA 8 47 PFOA C8HF15O2 PFCA 27 71 PFNA C9HF17O2 PFCA 1 5 PFDA C10HF19O2 PFCA 1 1 PFBS C4HF9O3S PFSA 16 61 PFPeS C5HF11O3S PFSA 5 21 PFHxS C6HF13O3S PFSA 18 27 PFHpS C7HF15O3S PFSA 2 1 PFOS C8HF17O3S PFSA 16 65 6:2 FTSA C8H5F13O3S FTSA 24 23 FBSA C4H2F9NO2S FASA 5 40 PFecHS C8F15HO3S PFSA 1 12 FHxSA C6H2F13NO2S FASA 1 6 • Approximately 60% of Groundwaters do not contain PFAS • Approximately 75% of surface water contain PFAS • Main hotspots are related to AFFF
  • 7. PFAS Risk Management 7 Permitting Environmental permitting regulations requires operators of “regulated facilities” to obtain a permit or to register some activities. • Protect the environment; • Assess compliance with standards; • Encourage best practice Uncertainties the fate, behaviour and risks posed make regulating PFAS difficult. To ensure we are making informed decisions we request detailed information about a facility or activity.
  • 8. PFAS Risk Management 8 • Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016 - Regulation 61(1) • Legal requirement to provide information. • Site Survey (Site history, drainage plans, review of current permits, identification of source sites and discharges). • Screening – (analytical testing to confirm presence of any PFAS) procedure for review • Monitoring Programme Plan (monitor your discharges and receiving waters over a minimum of 12 months) • Surface Water Risk Assessment - bespoke risk assessment • Outcomes may include a need for treatment.
  • 9. 9 Land contamination risk management Relevant to land being developed (or redeveloped) under the planning system The lack of understanding of PFAS makes assessing PFAS risks and liabilities difficult. In the absence of evidence and data, a precautionary approach is advisable to ensure protection of human health and the environment. Provides a means of dealing with risks posed by land contamination. Key principals are: • Identify and assess if there is an unacceptable risk - human health; environment; controlled waters. • Assess what remediation options are suitable to manage the risk • Plan and carry out remediation Part 2A Environmental Protection Act 1990 • EA can support the Council in identifying contaminated land in their area • Decide if any such land should also be designated as a Special Site. • A Special Site is where the Environment Agency takes on regulatory control from the local authority. PFAS Risk Management
  • 10. 10 • Stage 1 Risk Assessment: • Inform regulatory decisions • Scientifically-based • A site walkover and a desk study. • A robust, site specific Conceptual Site Model (CSM) • Generic Quantitative Risk Assessment (GQRA) • Drinking Water, Surface Water, groundwater, ecological risk • Detailed Quantitative Risk Assessment (DQRA) • Ambient/background concentrations, PFAS present, extent of plume of pollution, use of appropriate modelling tools. • Stage 2 Options Appraisal • Selection of applicable and available market-ready remediation technologies - currently limited. • PFAS also differ in chemical and physical properties from conventional contaminants • Stage 3 Remediation and Verification • Remediation Technologies – disposal, stabilisation, treatment/ incineration, capping, washing, filtration, sorbtion, fractionation, sequestration • Influencing factors, PFAS present, co-contaminants, waste generation, durability, regulatory objectives, sustainability. • Disposal options management of waste generated also need to be carefully considered, • Long-term monitoring PFAS Risk Management
  • 11. 11 Case study A large part of the site was a former petrochemical site, from 1946 up until the 1980s. Sources • Former fire station; Fire training areas; Fire incidents; • Concrete - absorb and accumulate PFAS and act as a reservoir Pathways • Direct contact with soil, leaching of contaminants and discharge of groundwater to surface waters. • Bioaccumulation of PFAS through food chain, - fish in nearby river or groundwater used to irrigate crops or for livestock watering. Receptors • The site has shallow secondary aquifer, and a deeper aquifer located in the sandstone bedrock - hydraulic continuity between them. • There are rivers located 130m north and 150m east, • A drainage channel connects the site with the river located to the north. • Groundwater abstractions are located 850m Remediation Options • Options appraisal - two main options: pump and treat with various ex-situ treatment technologies (membrane filtration, anion exchange, GAC) • Passive in-situ treatment comprising a permeable activated carbon barrier.
  • 12. 12 PFAS Resources and guidance Source document Link Strategies for grouping per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to protect human and environmental health (Cousins, I., et al , 2020) https://doi.org/10.1039/D0EM001 47C European Commission (May 2021) JRC Technical Reports. Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) of possible concern in the aquatic environment JRC Publications Repository - Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) of possible concern in the aquatic environment (europa.eu) Environment Agency (August 2021) Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): Sources, pathways and environmental data Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): sources, pathways and environmental data - report (publishing.service.gov.uk) CL:AIRE (February 2019) Managing Risks and Liabilities associate with Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs). Technical Bulletin 19 (TB19) https://www.claire.co.uk/informati on-centre/cl- airepublications?start=14 CL:AIRE (March 2023) An overview of the uses of PFAS to assist with the identification of sites of concern. Technical Bulleting 23 (TB23) https://www.claire.co.uk/home/ne ws/1782-pfas-bulletin OECD (2021) Reconciling Terminology of the Universe of Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: Recommendations and Practical Guidance. Series on Risk Management No. 61 Reconciling Terminology of the Universe of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: Recommendations and Practical Guidance (oecd.org) OECD (2022) OECD Environment, Health and Safety Publications Series on Risk Management No. 68. Fact Cards of Major Groups of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). https://one.oecd.org/document/e nv/cbc/mono(2022)1/en/pdf Envirotech Online (April 16 2022) Understanding Fate and Transport of PFAS to develop Effective Management Plans Understanding Fate and Transport of PFAS to Develop Effective Management Plans - Apr 01 2022 -Ian Ross - Environmental Science News Articles - Envirotech Online (envirotech-online.com) ITRC (Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council). 2022. PFAS Technical and Regulatory Guidance Document and Fact Sheets PFAS-1. Washington, D.C.: Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council, PFAS Team 2.2 Chemistry, Terminology, and Acronyms – PFAS — Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (itrcweb.org) An overview of the uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) (Glüge J, 2020) An overview of the uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) - PubMed (nih.gov) HSE (April 2023) Analysis of the most appropriate regulatory management options (RMOA) Analysis of the most appropriate regulatory management options (hse.gov.uk) NORMAN Suspect List Exchange – NORMAN SLE NORMAN Suspect List Exchange (norman-network.com) Land contamination: Technical guidance - Land contamination: technical guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) Ciria - Guidance on Perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) in soil and water environments (RP1145) Pending Perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) in soil and water environments (ciria.org) Concawe - Review of water treatment systems for PFAS removal https://www.concawe.eu/publication/review-of-water-treatment- systems-for-pfas-removal/
  • 13. Forward look 13 • Global background concentration – soil, air, water • Standard test methods relevant to legislation • Toxicology - Chronic exposure to mobile less fluorinated PFAS • Fluorotelomers – the accumulation of 6:2FTS, PFPeA, PFHxA Wood Environment & infrastructure solutions UK Limited