Billions of dollars have been made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to assist communities in addressing contamination from "forever chemicals" like per - and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in public drinking water supplies. Universal Engineering Sciences (UES) is well positioned to assist communities, industries, and other impacted entities to investigate through sampling, monitoring, and remediation of water contaminated with PFAS.
PFAS are a set of man-made chemicals that have been used in a wide range of consumer and industrial products since the 1940’s due to their resistance to grease, oil, water, and heat. For example, PFAS are used in stain and water resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products, paints, and fire-fighting foams. Certain PFAS are also authorized by the FDA for limited use in cookware, food packaging, and food processing equipment. Common everyday items such as pizza boxes, fast food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, baking papers, Teflon® coated cookware, protective clothing, tents, personal care products, adhesives, waxes, and carpets are just a few examples of items that contain PFAS. There has been a reduction in the manufacturing and use of certain types of PFAS. For example, some manufacturers such as 3M, the principal worldwide manufacturer and sole U.S. manufacturer of PFOS are phasing out the production of PFAS. There are a total of eight companies worldwide that produce various types of PFAS. Some companies are replacing PFAS with alternative substitute chemicals with the same performance effectiveness of their predecessors. Unfortunately, it is not evident that these replacement chemicals are safe to use.
PFAS are considered “forever chemicals” because they are environmentally persistent, bioaccumulative, and remain in human bodies for an unknown length of time. Accumulation of certain PFAS has been demonstrated through blood testing of humans and animals around the world. In fact, polar bears in the Artic have been found to have low levels of PFAS in their blood. This widespread exposure is attributed to the ability of these chemicals to bind to blood proteins and long half-lives in humans. PFAS has been shown to cause cancer and other severe health problems and poses serious threat to drinking water supplies across rural, suburban, and urban communities.
UES has formed a committee to develop standard operating procedures, guidelines and marketing to assist entities that may be impacted or need additional guidance. UES staff has experience in sampling and can provide direct support to our current and future clients regarding PFAS issues. There are many business entities that potentially could have used PFAS in their operations including aerospace, manufacturers of textiles, paper products, and insulation, metal platers, semiconductor industry, wire manufacturing, chemical producers and many others. At least 2,500 industrial facilities across the nation could be discharging PFAS into the air and water, according to EPA. The image below (obtained from EWG) shows the locations of facilities documented as using PFAS.
According to EWG there are 446 public water systems known to be contaminated with PFAS and nearly 700 military installations with known or suspected PFAS contamination. These facilities are not shown on the above image. PFAS contamination has also been identified at landfills (disposal of wastes containing PFAS), wastewater treatment plants (conventional sewage treatment methods do not efficiently remove PFAS), and biosolids (domestic sewage applied on agricultural land).
We also encourage our employees and families to be aware of issues that may impact their environment. For a very informative documentary regarding PFAS please visit: click here. PFAS are at low concentrations in the environment (air, water, soil, etc.) so completely eliminating exposure is unlikely. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t take precautions to significantly reduce your risk for exposure. Be aware of the household and consumer products that you use. Please use these links to identify some PFAS-free alternatives.
For inquires please contact Rick Bean 785.409.1320 or Dean Stanphill.