AS300: Automated Enrichment and Clean Up of Water Samples for Analysis of PFAS


30th January 2023

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been widely used in a variety of industrial and consumer products since the 1950s. These chemicals are known for their ability to resist heat, water, and oil, which is why they are commonly used in non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, and firefighting foam. 

Recent studies have found that PFAS can have negative effects on human health and the environment. These chemicals are known to be persistent, meaning they do not break down easily in the environment, and due to the hydrophobic nature of many of these chemicals they are able to bioaccumulate through the food chain.  As such PFAS has come under review by regulatory authorities.  

To comply with regulations and guidelines water authorities are looking to analyse samples to ensure safe levels in drinking water.  This is typically done using LC-MS/MS analysis, often by direct analysis on high specification instrumentation.    

At Element Cambridge we developed an automated method on a GERSTEL multipurpose sampler (MPS) utilising smart SPE (solid phase extraction), to both clean-up and enrich a variety of water types and sources.  This method allows sub 1 ng/L limits of detection for a wide range of PFAS analytes.  Thanks to the enrichment this method reduces the impact of sources of contamination associated with the analysis and allows low level detection on lower specification LC-MS/MS instruments. 

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