Many industrial sites around the world have used fire-fighting foams and other materials containing the class of chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). PFAS were developed more than 50 years ago and became popular as they can impart a range of useful properties to products, such as the ability to repel water and oil, and resist chemicals. Over time, however, PFAS were found to accumulate in the bodies of living organisms, including humans, potentially causing unintended environmental or human health impacts. What’s more, some PFAS are highly leachable, travel significant distances and persist within source areas decades after being released. Unlike many other contaminants, PFAS are difficult to destroy and won’t naturally degrade, which makes remediating PFAS contamination challenging.
At a major facility in the Australian state of Victoria, WSP worked with a client to develop a pragmatic approach to rapidly identify and prioritise PFAS risks. The result is a good news story for the community, client, regulatory agency and environment.