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PFAS: Prevalent Sources, Differentiation, and Regulation
Rosa Gwinn and Mahsa Shayan
The objective of this presentation is to convey the types of PFAS sources, how to discriminate between them chemically and present the variety of regulatory approaches developing in response to the array of compounds.  

The assertion that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are "everywhere" is oft repeated and perpetuates a misrepresentation of the environmental issue faced by communities, scientists and regulators. PFAS are indeed present in a wide array of commercial industrial products, and the compounds have appeared in many places that we wish they weren’t, i.e., drinking water, wild biota, food and blood serum. However, if PFAS were omnipresent and ubiquitous, then pursuing regulation and clean up would be futile, and it is not. This presentation discusses the relative importance of sources, PFAS fate and transport behaviors, and how evolving regulations affect society's response.

First, we will present a survey of the latest prevalence data for PFAS – focusing on North America – as a means of communicating where the various sources exist, what receptors they are most likely to affect, and the forensic chemistry behind differentiating sources. PFAS distribution will be gleaned from public datasets, such as the California Water Boards and peer-reviewed publications. The survey will highlight the importance of identifying well-known PFAS releases (e.g., fire training areas) and less well-understood releases (e.g., landfill materials), and how the chemistry serves to differentiate sources. Relying on the chemical analytical data from many thousands of PFAS samples we have collected and, where practicable, other publicly reported data, we will highlight two observations: where PFAS and precursors are (and aren’t) in source areas, and how the ratio of PFAS and precursors reflect the origin of the release. For the latter, we will explain an accepted approach for differentiating sources using principal component analysis in conjunction with other statistical methods using real world data. Site-specific factors (e.g., geology, geochemistry) will also be considered along with compound-specific (e.g., sorption, transformation) factors to explain the observed fate and transport behaviour.

Finally, a review of the regulatory decisions made (and not made) in the US and Canada in 2019 and 2020 will be presented. This regulatory review will focus on the implications of regulatory decision-making, from the interpretation of toxicological results for calculating “safe” levels of exposure to the broadest reaching implications of defining the entire class of PFAS as “hazardous substances”. The prior explanation of source types and differentiation provides a context for how jurisdictions are responding to PFAS, the urgency for different responses (e.g., controlling importation of long-chain PFAS, or engaging in source removal), and how the magnitude of a response relates to the regulatory decision.

Rosa Gwinn, Americas Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Lead, AECOM
Rosa Gwinn is AECOM’s Americas Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) Lead, representing AECOM’s 15+ years of direct experience sampling, testing, managing, and mitigating the presence of these emerging compounds with clients, academic partners, and government agencies. She has provided technical and project management consulting expertise to private and government clients for over 25 years, with a primary focus on the characterization and remediation of environmental contamination including PFAS, chlorinated solvents, military munitions and munitions constituents, and redox metals. As a technical practitioner, she provides her specialty focus on applying statistics to environmental questions relating to risk, distribution, and trends. She currently oversees the execution of PFAS evaluation, sampling, and mitigation at nearly 200 facilities in the US for a major defense client. In her role, she meets with national political and academic leaders whose focus is managing a reasoned and protective regulatory response in the US.

Treatment of PFAS: Current Approaches and Developing Alternatives
Krista Barfoot and François Lauzon
Stantec Consulting Limited
The objective of this presentation is to review the state of PFAS treatment technologies by examining field-applied and developing processes, as well as their feasibility, cost, and waste implications, with a specific emphasis on the resources and tools available across Canada.  

Internationally, standards for allowable concentrations of various per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in different environmental media continue to be evolved, and an increase in regulated standards and PFAS-specific government orders are being put in place at the state level in the United States. Although investigative efforts previously were largely focused on the release of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) at airports and military bases, governments are broadening the focus to include other types of PFAS releases. For example, on October 31, 2019, the California Environmental Protection Agency released an order indicating PFAS investigation must be conducted at all petroleum and dry-cleaning facilities. While in Canada, concerns regarding PFAS are still largely only emerging among industry practitioners, provincial regulators and municipalities, the establishment of Drinking Water Guidelines (DWG) for the two most common PFAS (and Drinking Water Screening Values [DWSV] for nine additional PFAS parameters) by Health Canada within the past year is expected, as a minimum, to mean a greater focus on these parameters as part of source water protection and water treatment activities.

Anticipating an expanded need to test for PFAS, coupled with the likelihood of parameters being observed at various sites given the historic prolific use of PFAS in different industries, a current understanding of viable treatment options – especially in Canada – is needed. Although many research initiatives continue to explore different types of technologies, the number of field-implemented approaches remains fairly limited. This presentation will review the state of PFAS treatment technologies, examining field-applied and developing processes, as well as their feasibility, cost, and waste implications, with a specific emphasis on the resources and tools available across Canada.

Krista Barfoot, Principal, Environmental Services, Stantec Consulting Limited
Krista Barfoot has over 23 years of industry experience, with extensive expertise in strategic site planning, risk assessment, vapour intrusion assessment, and risk management. Her technical expertise additionally extends to emerging contaminants (including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances [PFAS]), excess soil management, non-aqueous phase liquid, risk mitigation measures, and stakeholder communication. She has led the development of the strategic approach for revitalizing several large, high-profile brownfield sites in Ontario; these efforts have included the consideration of PFAS as emerging contaminants, the management of non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPL) in place, and soil reuse. Krista is a qualified person for risk assessment (per Ontario Regulation 153/04), chair of the Ontario Environmental Industry Association (ONEIA) Brownfields Committee, an ONEIA Excess Soils Sub-Committee member, and a member of the board of the Canadian Brownfields Network. Her studies and work have spanned the fields of chemistry, toxicology, pedology, geology, agrology, and ecology.

PFAS, Our First Contaminant in the Age of Social Media – Pros and Cons
François Lauzon, Stantec Consulting Limited
The objective of this presentation is to make federal contaminated sites managers aware of the advantages and potential stressors associated with social media using PFAS as an example.  

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published in 1962 and has since sold more than 2 million copies. The book was released in an era when traditional media was paper-based, and televisions were becoming mainstream. We were living in a world where the audience was passive. Fast-forward to the 2000s, with the light-speed evolution of smart phones, tablets, and social media “shares”, we have become an active audience in the events that surround us.

Though Ms. Carson did not set out to do so, she influenced the environmental movement as no one had before. Silent Spring presented a view of nature, from the bugs, the birds and fish, and eventually to humans, compromised by synthetic pesticides, especially DDT. Much of the data and case studies that Carson drew from weren’t new; the scientific community had known of these findings for some time, but Carson was the first to put them all together for the general public. Yet, one could argue that today’s young working environmental professionals are likely to be more aware of Leonardo DiCaprio’s environmentalism than they are of Rachel Carson.

In the past, risk perception was based on the assumption that the general public had limited scientific knowledge and capability to cope with the risks they faced. Their perceptions were significantly influenced by a wide spectrum of “local” social and psychological factors such as fear, familiarity with the risk, ability to control the risk, etc. Today, the enhanced quality of education, an increase in public environmental awareness, the strength of the general public’s social networks, and varieties of public media, we have almost limitless access to risk-related information – some real, some, maybe not so much...

Unlike traditional Internet and communication technologies (passive communications), social media manage the content of the conversation or interaction as an information artifact in the online environment. Social media binds together communities that once were geographically isolated, greatly increasing the pace and intensity of collaboration. Now that these once-remote communities are densely networked, their cultural influence has become direct and substantial.

While these social media have been widely adopted publicly, organizations are only recently realizing their potential. A key difference between these technologies and other standard forms of passive communication technologies are that users are able to make their views, perceptions and knowledge public via “the system”. This forms ties with other individuals who may have similar interests, needs or problems (or perceived problems...).

So how can this impact your contaminated site remediation/risk management strategy? This presentation will highlight some of the pros and cons of social media so that contaminated site managers can try to use them to their advantage, while being mindful of their potential “stress” on the project and affected populations.

François Lauzon, Vice President, Sector Leader, Environmental Services - Federal (Canada), Stantec Consulting Limited
François Lauzon is a Vice President operating from the Stantec Ottawa office responsible for Stantec Consulting Limited’s Environmental Services Federal Sector. He is a graduate and post-graduate from the Royal Military College of Canada where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering (1986) and a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering (1998). He has over 34 years of experience in municipal and environmental engineering, with particular expertise in the management of federal contaminated sites since his leadership role at the Department of National Defence and in the Federal Contaminated Sites Management Working Group in 1998. His expertise in supporting federal departments includes the conduct of environmental site assessment and remediation projects, the analysis and communication of risks to human health and ecological receptors, and more recently, in the management of contaminated sites impacted by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

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