We hope this newsletter finds you in good health and good spirits. Another month of virtual work and school (and graduations!) and social distancing has come and gone and now we are slowly beginning to reopen our state, our universities and our research labs. Some of our Network friends have already returned to their physical labs and some will be returning in coming days and weeks follow safety guidelines. We wish everyone a safe and fruitful recommencement of research.
Even as we have stayed home the past several months, our work has not stopped. We continue to submit proposals, analyze existing data, write academic manuscripts, meet with partners and publish findings. We have been highlighting Network associated research papers in recent newsletters (find archives here) and are excited about continuing to do this in this edition and future ones. Once we compile a critical mass of this important contribution to the body of PFAS literature, we will make them available on our website.
Looking towards the future, there is still uncertainty about learning to work and live in the new normal. UNC system universities are planning to welcome students back to campus on a modified semester schedule that begins in early August and ends by Thanksgiving this year. The ebb and flow of research will likely follow this schedule. Similarly, our Communications Team is planning a virtual event in fall to replace a planned Network Symposium this month. We will share details for this and other relevant upcoming events as we have them. Please continue sharing events, papers and resources with us so we can highlight your work and benefit the public.
PFAS Testing Network Project Management Team
Network Bulletin Team Quarterly Progress Report - due June 18th Quarterly Report to NC Legislature - due July 1st
Meet a Network Scientist
JIAQI ZHOU, UNC-CH (Team 4) Can you provide background information about yourself? I grew up in Chifeng, a northern city in China, and earned my Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering in Nankai University, Tianjin. I have a M.S. in Statistics and a Ph.D in Exposure Science, both from Rutgers University in New Jersey. I am currently working as a postdoctoral associate at UNC-Chapel Hill in Dr. Barbara Turpin’s lab. My research focuses on the exposure measurement and assessment of various VOCs and SVOCs (e.g. fragrance, PBDEs, PFASs) via multiple environmental media (dust, air, particles, etc.). I am interested in the general population’s exposure, some of the vulnerable populations’ exposure (children, elderly, etc.) and occupational exposure (restaurant workers, floor waxing worker, etc.).
How did you get involved in the PFAST Network? What are you doing?
Upon completion of my Ph.D., I took a postdoctoral associate position at UNC working on PFAS air measurement within Team 4. I was involved in the one-year PFAS air sampling campaign, in which we collected both gas-phase and particle-phase PFAS weekly at 5 sites across NC. I also worked on the analytical method development for PFAS air measurement. We are interested in the spatial and seasonal distributions of atmospheric PFAS across NC, and the potential inhalation exposure levels of PFAS.
Which people in your field have been most influential to you and your career? My Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Clifford P. Weisel, and my postdoc advisor, Dr. Barbara J. Turpin, have been two of the most influential people to me and my career. My connection with them starts with an interesting anecdote: the first research article I was assigned to read for a journal club while doing undergraduate research on personal exposure to PM2.5 was “Relationships of Indoor, Outdoor, and Personal Air (RIOPA)”. This fundamental research was written in two parts, part 1 by Dr. Weisel and part 2 by Dr. Turpin! Both people are great advisors in many ways, guiding research directions, improving technical skills, and providing all sorts of opportunities for career growth. Most importantly, they have taught me to be a better, more thoughtful and inclusive person. My Ph.D. committee member, Dr. Gedi Mainelis, and my postdoc co-advisor, Dr. Jason. D. Surratt are also very important people who have helped me a lot along the way. Their continuous support, encouragement and passion for research motivates me in moving forward in my own career.
What major future research questions (or projects) do you hope to address (PFAS related or otherwise)? Moving forward, I am very interested in examining the reactive uptake of hexafluoropropylene oxide (HFPO) onto atmospheric aerosol to further explain the presence of non-volatile ionic PFAS concentrations in remote areas and provide insights into the atmospheric lifetime and spatial distribution of PFAS compounds in North Carolina. I am also interested in working towards a comprehensive understanding of human exposure to PFAS indoors, certain vulnerable age groups’ exposure to PFAS or some PFAS-related occupational exposure research.
PFAS Article Highlight
Nontarget Discovery of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Atmospheric Particulate Matter and Gaseous Phase Using Cryogenic Air Sampler
Nanyang Yu, Haozhe Wen, Xuebing Wang, Eriko Yamazaki, Sachi Taniyasu, Nobuyoshi Yamashita, Hongxia Yu, and Si Wei Environmental Science & Technology 2020, 54, 3103-3113 https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b05457 The authors in this month’s featured paper describe a novel, cryogenic air sampler (CAS) capable of simultaneously collecting atmospheric particulate matter (PM) and gas phase samples for non-target analysis by high resolution liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. They report identification of suspected and novel classes of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and characterization of the relative distribution of PFAS classes between the PM and gaseous phases of atmospheric samples collected on top of a building at Nanjing University. The CAS consists of a nanoparticle sampler (NPS) in series with a cryogenic moisture sampler (CMS) which collect particles and gases, respectively. Particles in the air are separated and collected on quartz fiber filters in the NPS according to size ranging from greater than 10 microns to less than 1 micron, and then the particle-free air passes into the CMS. The CMS consists of a bubbler containing a solvent to absorb PFAS from the air and a cold trap which uses an electrical cryo-trap to collect the very-volatile to semi-volatile organic compounds by varying the temperature. The CAS can also collect high-humidity air samples and doesn’t require adsorbent materials such as polyurethane foam (PUF) which may only capture a subset of the atmospheric PFAS and could introduce background contaminants in the nontarget analysis. In this study, sample extracts were subjected to high resolution mass and fragmentation analysis, and data were analyzed for PFAS identification using a nontarget strategy called “PFAS homologue analysis” in which the software looks for series of related compounds (homologues) whose exact masses differ by a repeating unit of mass (such as that of the difluoro-methyl group (-CF2-) at 49.99681 Dalton). Accurate masses believed to be associated with PFAS were screened against a database that included commercial standards, PFAS identified in previous studies, and PFAS with mass fragmentation spectra in the Norman Network database system of emerging environmental substances. The authors defined confidence levels for PFAS identifications ranging from 1 (most) to 5 (least), with the most confident assignment based on structural confirmation with chemical standards, and the least having only on an exact mass match to more than one potential compound. Following their comprehensive data analysis, they identified a total of 117 PFAS homologues which they grouped in 38 classes. Of these 48 (13 classes) had confidence levels between 1 and 4 (exact mass match to a single molecular formula). They presented the distribution of PFAS in the gaseous and particle phases in which a large number of the novel PFAS were found in the gas phase. Most of the perfluoroalkyl carboxylates were detected in both phases, however PFBA was only found in the particle phase. The authors claim to report for the first time, detection of 5 classes of novel chlorinated perfluoropolyether substances in atmospheric samples: 11 chlorinated perfluoropolyether alcohols; 4 chlorinated perfluoropolyether carboxylic acids; and 12 hydro-substituted perfluoroalkyl carboxylates (H-PFCAs) and note that H-PFCAs and chlorinated perfluoropolyether carboxylic acids were mainly distributed in the particle phase. Overall, their results demonstrate that this new cryogenic air sampler coupled with a nontarget screening approach can be used effectively to identify novel PFAS in atmospheric gases and particles simultaneously. Furthermore, this workflow has the potential to discover even more unknown PFAS, particularly short-chain and non-polar PFAS in the gas phase, by incorporation of gas chromatography and/or accurate mass analysis in the positive ion mode.
EPA TAKES NEXT STEP TO IMPLEMENT PFAS LEGISLATION : Certain PFAS to be added into the Code of Federal Regulations for the Toxics Release Inventory
The Environmental Protection Agency has taken a next step to implement a significant PFAS requirement of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which became effective on January 1, 2020. The NDAA added 172 PFAS to the list of chemicals required to be reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and established a 100-pound reporting threshold for these substances. The agency is publishing a final rule that officially incorporates these requirements into the Code of Federal Regulations for TRI. As it is in response to a Congressional legislative mandate, this rule is effective immediately. Forms for these PFAS will be due to EPA by July 1, 2021, for calendar year 2020 data. EPA expects to release raw data from information collected by July 31, 2021.
Read the final rule here. Learn more about the addition of PFAS chemicals to TRI, including a list of the 172 PFAS now subject TRI reporting here.
U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS: Superfund Sites Identified by EPA to have PFAS Contamination
The Committee has published a map highlighting 180 federal Superfund Sites that were identified by EPA as having PFAS contamination. The list was provided as part of EPA response to questions at the Committee’s March 2019 hearing entitled “Examining the federal response to the risks associated with PFAS.” The map includes two military sites in North Carolina and can be seen here.
UPCOMING WEBINAR (9am on June 18th): Exploring PFAS Treatment Solutions and their Efficacy: Comparing FLUORO-SORB® Adsorbent, GAC, and Ion Exchange Resin
Organized by Environment Analyst. Chris Bellona, Professor at Colorado School of Mines, and Dr Michael Donovan, Global R&D Director for CETCO will present on the following topics: PFAS and Current Treatment Options: Ion Exchange Resins, Granular Activated Carbon, etc.; FLUORO-SORB® Adsorbent: Overview; Drinking Water Treatment: Research conducted by Colorado School of Mines and results from a field study conducted by the Orange County, California Water District; Soil and Groundwater Treatment: Research conducted by McGill University; Source Zone Treatment and Stabilization: Research conducted by the University of Texas – Austin and results from a field study conducted by Arcadis. Register here.
Chemical & Engineering News:PFAS restriction plan developing in EU (May 16)
Five countries are drawing up a proposal to restrict production and use of PFAS in the European Union. Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden have announced they want to tightly regulate PFAS under the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) law. The countries say the proposal would limit human health and environmental risks from these compounds and are asking the public and companies that manufacture, use, or sell products with PFAS to provide information to help in drafting the plan. Read more here.
Coastal Review Online: Bills Offer Options for PFAS Regulation (May 20)
NC Representative Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, and about three dozen cosponsors, have introduced a series of bills intended to demonstrate the range of steps the state could take in PFAS. The three bills offer three approaches to PFAS regulation. House Bill 1109 is essentially a comprehensive ban on the manufacture and use of PFAS in the state. House Bill 1108, PFAS Containment Mitigation Measures, requires the state’s Environmental Management Commission to begin to set standards for PFAS compounds and DEQ to develop a framework for regulation and enforcement of PFAS. House Bill 1110 would allocate about $600,000 for a series of studies, including ecological assessments of the Cape Fear River Basin and financial and budget impacts of PFAS across state government. Harrison acknowledged none are likely to pass in their current form, but is hoping to move action on PFAS regulation. Read more here.
Fayetteville Observer: EPA failed to monitor GenX chemical for eight years (May 28)
In 2009, the EPA reached an agreement to allow DuPont to manufacture its GenX chemical at its plant in Bladen County near Fayetteville as long as it captured and destroyed or recycled 99% of the GenX the plant would otherwise emit into the air and water. However, from 2009 to the end of June 2017, the agency made no inspections to make sure the plant, now operated by Chemours Co., was in compliance with the agreement, says a report issued by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General. Instead, the report says EPA relied on information provided to it by Chemours to verify that the plant was in compliance with the agreement. The first EPA inspections were conducted after StarNews of Wilmington reported there was GenX in drinking water supplies of communities along the Cape Fear River downstream of the plant. Read more here.
Publications and Other Research
Toxicologic Pathology (Mar 2020):Assessment of the Mode of Action Underlying the Effects of GenX in Mouse Liver and Implications for Assessing Human Health Risks
Grace A. Chappell, Chad M. Thompson, Jeffrey C. Wolf, John M. Cullen, James E. Klaunig, and Laurie C. Haws https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0192623320905803
Waste Mangement (Apr 2020): Waste type, incineration, and aeration are associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl levels in landfill leachates
Helena M.Solo-Gabriele, Athena S. Jones, Andrew B. Lindstrom, and Johnsie R. Lang https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2020.03.034
Environmental Science & Technology (May 2020):Evidence of Air Dispersion: HFPO–DA and PFOA in Ohio and West Virginia Surface Water and Soil near a Fluoropolymer Production Facility
Jason E. Galloway, Anjelica V. P. Moreno, Andrew B. Lindstrom, Mark J. Strynar, Seth Newton, Andrew A. May, and Linda K. Weavers https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b07384
Environmental Science & Technology Letters (May 2020):μ-MIP: Molecularly Imprinted Polymer-Modified Microelectrodes for the Ultrasensitive Quantification of GenX (HFPO-DA) in River Water
Matthew W. Glasscott, Kathryn J. Vannoy, Rezvan Kazemi, Matthew D. Verber, and Jeffrey E. Dick https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00341