Project

PERFORCE3

Goal: PER- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances towards the Future Of Research and its Communication in Europe
This Innovative Training Network (ITN) is a Europe-wide multi-partner doctoral research training programme in the field of PFAS, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under its Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action grant agreement No 860665.
In this Consortium, partners from academia, industries and authorities are working hand in hand to extensively improve our understanding and management of the capacious group of chemicals known as per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS).

The overarching aims are to:
• Improve the knowledge base on PFAS exposure and health effects
• Develop new detection and quantification methods for legacy and novel PFAS
• Find innovative solutions to PFAS contaminations
• Investigate PFAS alternatives
• Improve communication and dissemination in the field

Find us on our webpage: https://perforce3-itn.eu/

Find us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12485595/

Find us on Twitter: @PERFORCE3_ITN

Date: 1 January 2020 - 31 December 2023

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Project log

Lara Cioni
added 2 research items
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of industrial chemicals that have been detected worldwide in the environment, in wildlife and in humans. Even if over 4700 PFAS are registered in the market, only few of them are commonly analyzed in human samples and some fluorine mass-balance studies are showing that currently measured PFAS might not be enough to describe the full extent of PFAS human exposure. Among the underlooked PFAS in human samples, precursors are of concern for human health because these compounds can be metabolized to perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAA) that are already known to be toxic. To look for both known and unknown precursors in human serum an adaptation of the total oxidizable precursors assay (TOPA) was developed. In the TOP assay precursors are converted to easy to measure PFAA by oxidation with heat activated persulfate under alkaline conditions. The total oxidizable precursors are then quantified by measuring the PFAA produced by oxidation. The TOPA was introduced as a complementary tool for water analysis and had to be modified to be applied to small volumes of human serum samples. Modifications to the method were tested on reference serum samples spiked with model precursors. To fully convert the model substances the heating at 85°C had to be extended and a large excess of oxidant was needed. However, even when precursors were fully converted, the yield of identified oxidation products was not always 100%, ranging from 33 to 100%. As there can be precursors that are not at all or not fully converted to PFAA, care must be taken in quantifying the total amount of precursors present using the sum of PFAA produced by oxidation. Unequivocal information on the structure of the oxidizable part vanishes, but the distribution of products is a good indication to that, as well as to the structure of the original perfluorinated part. In general, the products are perfluorocarboxylic acids with the same or shorter perfluorinated chain, but for some precursors PFOS and perfluoroethercarboxylic acids can also be observed as oxidation products. The final method can be used to determine well known PFAS and oxidizable precursors using only one small serum aliquot. The TOP assay is a valuable tool to estimate the contribution of precursors present in human serum directly linked to human exposure, indicating their structure and type without requiring additional sample amounts, instrumentations or standards.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of chemicals including over 4700 substances. As a limited number of PFAS is routinely analyzed in human serum, complementary analytical methods are required to characterize the overlooked fraction. A promising tool is the total oxidizable precursors assay (TOPA) to look for precursors by oxidation to perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAA). The TOPA was originally developed for large volumes of water and had to be adapted for 250 μl of human serum. Optimization of the method was performed on serum samples spiked with model precursors. Oxidative conditions similar to previous TOPA methods were not sufficient for complete oxidation of model precursors. Prolonged heating time (24 hours) and higher oxidant amount (95 mg of Na2S2O8 per 225 μl of serum) were needed for complete conversion of the model precursors and accomplishing PFAA yields of 35-100 %. As some precursors are not fully converted to PFAA, the TOPA can only provide semi-quantitative estimates of oxidizable precursors in human serum. However, the TOPA can provide indications about the identity of unknown precursors by evaluating the oxidation products, including PFSA and PFECA. The optimized TOPA for human serum opens for high-throughput screening of human serum for undetected PFAA precursors.
Rachel London
added a research item
Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of substances for which there are widespread concerns about their extreme persistence in combination with toxic effects. It has been argued that PFAS should only be employed in those uses that are necessary for health or safety or are critical for the functioning of society and where no alternatives are available ("essential-use concept"). Implementing the essential-use concept requires a sufficient understanding of the current uses of PFAS and of the availability, suitability, and hazardous properties of alternatives. To illustrate the information requirements under the essential-use concept, we investigate seven different PFAS uses, three in consumer products and four industrial applications. We investigate how much information is available on the types and functions of PFAS in these uses, how much information is available on alternatives, their performance and hazardous properties and, finally, whether this information is sufficient as a basis for deciding on the essentiality of a PFAS use. The results show (i) the uses of PFAS are highly diverse and information on alternatives is often limited or lacking; (ii) PFAS in consumer products often are relatively easy to replace; (iii) PFAS uses in industrial processes can be highly complex and a thorough evaluation of the technical function of each PFAS and of the suitability of alternatives is needed; (iv) more coordination among PFAS manufacturers, manufacturers of alternatives to PFAS, users of these materials, government authorities, and other stakeholders is needed to make the process of phasing out PFAS more transparent and coherent.
Sanne Smith
added a research item
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are of concern for their ubiquity in the environment combined with their persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic properties. Landfill leachate is often contaminated with these chemicals, and therefore, the development of cost-efficient water treatment technologies is urgently needed. The present study investigated the applicability of a pilot-scale foam fractionation setup for the removal of PFAS from natural landfill leachate in a novel continuous operating mode. A benchmark batch test was also performed to compare treatment efficiency. The ΣPFAS removal efficiency plateaued around 60% and was shown to decrease for the investigated process variables air flow rate (Q air), collected foam fraction (%foam) and contact time in the column (t c). For individual long-chain PFAS, removal efficiencies above 90% were obtained, whereas the removal for certain short-chain PFAS was low (<30%). Differences in treatment efficiency between enriching mode versus stripping mode as well as between continuous versus batch mode were negligible. Taken together, these findings suggest that continuous foam fractionation is a highly applicable treatment technology for PFAS contaminated water. Coupling the proposed cost- and energy-efficient foam fractionation pretreatment to an energy-intensive degradative technology for the concentrated foam establishes a promising strategy for on-site PFAS remediation.
Lars Brunken
added 13 research items
To determine if fluorinated and non-fluorinated alternatives are safer, more sustainable alternatives to long-chain PFASs in selected consumer products and to propose options for the assessment, regulation and management of alternative PFASs where necessary.
1)To determine the fate and transport behaviour of PFAS in diverse natural unsaturated soils with and without sorbent amendments, 2) To integrate ex-situ thermal pyrolysis options to simultaneously degrade PFAS substances vis heat and convert organic matter into a PFAS sorbent, 3) To optimize approaches for using soil washing and sorbent amendments for in situ remediation of PFAS contaminated soils.
1)To determine the fate and transport behaviour of PFAS in diverse natural unsaturated soils with and without sorbent amendments, 2) To integrate ex-situ thermal pyrolysis options to simultaneously degrade PFAS substances vis heat and convert organic matter into a PFAS sorbent, 3) To optimize approaches for using soil washing and sorbent amendments for in situ remediation of PFAS contaminated soils.
Oddny Ragnarsdottir
added a research item
Early-Stage Researcher: Oddný Ragnarsdóttir. Host: University of Birmingham. Supervisors: Stuart Harrad and Mohamed Abdallah. The project focuses on the evaluation of the use of in vitro human skin equivalent models to characterise the trans-dermal uptake of PFASs from both indoor dust and source materials. The test materials will include PFAS-treated waterproof clothing. Human skin equivalent models are widespread in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry and have been utilized by the UoB team to examine the dermal uptake of flame retardants from dust and source materials but have yet to be explored fully in the context of PFAS exposure. The project will include examination of the possible role of dermal uptake in metabolizing precursors to PFOA and PFOS. The models will be validated against results obtained using ex vivo human skin.
Mohammad Sadia
added 2 research items
The project will focus on improving the understanding of human exposure pathways, especially via drinking water, to legacy, replacement and previously unidentified PFASs. Therefore, we will develop HR-MS analytical strategies to follow the environmental fate and removal of a broad variety of PFASs in the water cycle. Removal efficiency of those PFASs from the drinking water sources (groundwater and surface water) during various technologies in use for drinking water treatment will be investigated. This will be done via bench scale, pilot scale or full scale experiments, by assessing water treatment plants. We will also study partitioning behavior to available sorbents for PFASs removal. We will create a better understanding of the removal strategies and the mobility of the alternative PFASs in the drinking water cycle.
Lars Brunken
added a research item
• Identify and characterize associations between human serum PFAS levels and data on corresponding health responses. Focus on serum lipids and metabolomics data for establishing dose-response relationships. • Include all generated information and combine it with mechanistic data from collaborators within the PERFORCE3 network into a probabilistic assessment of cardiovascular disease risk following exposure to individual PFAS or PFAS mixtures. • Utilize the acquired data for development of adverse outcome pathways (AOPs) for cardiovascular disease.
Lars Brunken
added a project goal
PER- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances towards the Future Of Research and its Communication in Europe
This Innovative Training Network (ITN) is a Europe-wide multi-partner doctoral research training programme in the field of PFAS, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under its Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action grant agreement No 860665.
In this Consortium, partners from academia, industries and authorities are working hand in hand to extensively improve our understanding and management of the capacious group of chemicals known as per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS).
The overarching aims are to:
• Improve the knowledge base on PFAS exposure and health effects
• Develop new detection and quantification methods for legacy and novel PFAS
• Find innovative solutions to PFAS contaminations
• Investigate PFAS alternatives
• Improve communication and dissemination in the field
Find us on our webpage: https://perforce3-itn.eu/
Find us on Twitter: @PERFORCE3_ITN