Per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) comprise a family of chemicals that were manufactured from the 1940s to 2002 and have found their way into soils and groundwater around the world. The toxicology of some of the dominant members of this group such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) has been studied extensively and linked to a variety of human health effects including low birth weights, immunological and hormonal disruptions, and cancer (1). PFAS chemicals have been identified in wells which supply drinking water to one in seven Americans (2). Based on their demonstrated health effects and wide distribution in the environment, this family of chemicals is now considered an emerging contaminant in need of remedial action by the U.S. EPA (3).
In response to the growing need to address this environmental contaminant, Clean Earth has taken its first step to evaluate the use of thermal desorption as a viable technology to remove PFAS from soils. This technology has been used effectively and safely by Clean Earth since 1992 to treat a variety of organic contaminants. An initial test, under the direction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), was performed on 22.6 tons of contaminated soil at Clean Earth’s Fort Edward, New York facility in December 2018 and February 2019. Based on the encouraging results of this preliminary thermal desorption treatment of PFAS-contaminated soil, Clean Earth is continuing work with state agencies to establish criteria to demonstrate the efficiency of the process and to optimize the treatment process.
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