Lines of Evidence to Assess the Effectiveness of PFAS Remedial Technologies

Dr. Rula Deeb | Geosyntec Consultants



The Department of Defense (DoD) needs treatment technologies to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) contamination in soil and groundwater. The remediation, drinking water and waste management industries all recognize the importance and extent of investments needed to improve PFAS treatment options. Proponents of several innovative treatment technologies have claimed success in removing or destroying PFASs. However, removal mechanisms are often not understood, byproducts are often not measured, and the effect of the technology on other components in AFFF mixtures is unknown. To improve the return on investment and guide future investments in PFAS treatment technologies, this project plans to develop lines of evidence to assess the effectiveness of PFAS treatment technologies. 

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Technical Approach

This project will develop lines of evidence, decision tools, and recommended metrics for assessing the performance of PFAS treatment technologies. These practical tools will be developed by the project team in collaboration with researchers and organizations with direct experience evaluating the performance of PFAS treatment technologies. The project is organized into three tasks:

  1. Task 1 will involve drafting recommended lines of evidence as checklists or as a matrix for evaluating technology removal mechanisms and overall success at different stages of research and demonstration (including laboratory-scale proof of concept, treatability studies, pilot-scale, and full-scale). Existing tools to support each line of evidence will be compiled including practical information such as commercial availability and cost.
  2. Task 2 will involve planning and convening an expert workshop with broad representation from DoD decision makers, regulators, academic researchers, and practitioners, including water and wastewater treatment experts. Workshop outcomes and discussion will be used to refine draft Task 1 products.
  3. Under Task 3, a decision tool will be prepared based on the lines of evidence to identify next steps in assessing the value of a remediation technology. This tool could be used to identify priorities for advancing technologies or for evaluating whether a technology is ready for a field demonstration and would like to identify key areas of uncertainty regarding technology performance.

Results will be summarized in a report that provides practical suggestions to guide future assessments of the efficacy of PFAS treatment. The report will also highlight common pitfalls and lessons learned from the design of previous technology research and demonstrations that resulted in ambiguous findings.

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This project will result in clearer guidance for researchers and practitioners alike by providing appropriate metrics for evaluating the success of PFAS treatment at different stages of technology development. It will provide technology developers with clear metrics to follow to demonstrate technology efficacy and best practices to avoid common pitfalls. This project will also provide a basis for comparison of the effectiveness of different remedial technologies. Project results may be relevant to other contaminants beyond PFASs. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2019)

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Dr. Rula Deeb

Geosyntec Consultants

Phone: 510-285-2676

Program Manager

Environmental Restoration