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Per‐ and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Environmental Sampling Products: Fact or Fiction?

Elizabeth Denly, Jim Occhialini, Phil Bassignani, Michael Eberle, Nidal Rabah |

TRC’s per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) experts published an article that investigates the potential for cross-contamination from a number of commonly used products during sampling.

Can PFAS be transferred from the common field and other commercial products during sampling? Special handling and care are always advised when collecting samples for PFAS analysis to avoid sample contamination. The potential presence of PFAS in common consumer products and in equipment typically used to collect environmental samples, coupled with the need for very low reporting limits heightens this concern.
In this paper, the authors investigate what the potential for crosscontamination is from a number of commonly used products, with the emphasis on evaluating what the possible worst‐case scenario for cross‐contamination could be. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), low‐density polyethylene (LDPE), and high‐density polyethylene (HDPE) tubing, pump bladders, and other materials are evaluated along with associated products such as aluminum foil and plastic storage bags. In the experimental design of this study, the products themselves are not analyzed directly for PFAS. Rather, a series of experiments are performed utilizing a leaching procedure to evaluate the potential for cross-contamination and false‐positive environmental sampling results. This study was performed in a series of experimental batches over the course of a 1‐year period. Analytical results are presented along with experimental observations and recommendations.

Elizabeth Denly

Elizabeth Denly serves as TRC’s Vice President, PFAS Initiative Leader. She is also the Quality Assurance & Chemistry Director, responsible for the creation and implementation of the Quality Management Plan and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for field sampling and documentation protocols. Ms. Denly also leads Quality Coordinator networks, which are responsible for the development and communication of quality initiatives within the organization. She is a chemist with 29 years of consulting experience encompassing field and laboratory analyses and audits, QA/QC, data validation, and consulting for regulatory agencies.

Ms. Denly is a leader in ITRC’s PFAS and TPH Risk Work Groups and in TRC’s Center of Research & Expertise (CORE) Emerging Contaminants Team and received the ITRC’s Industry Member of the Year Award in 2017. She is currently focusing on PFAS, specifically the nomenclature, chemistry, sampling procedures, QA/QC, and laboratory analytical methodologies, and has a significant role in educating clients, attorneys, and regulators about PFAS.

As a senior QA specialist at TRC, Ms. Denly is responsible for providing QA/QC oversight in support of a variety of environmental investigations and remediation programs including risk-based soil cleanups, ambient air monitoring, and human health and ecological risk assessments. In this role, she has directed the preparation of QAPPs, coordination with the laboratory, selection of the appropriate analytical methodologies to achieve the desired remedial standards, oversight and performance of the data validation process, and determination of the usability of the data and achievement of data objectives. Ms. Denly has provided this oversight under different regulatory programs.
Read more on Ms. Denly’s bio page. Please contact her at

Nidal Rabah

Nidal Rabah, Ph.D., PE, LSRP, PMP is the Director of the Technical Development Unit and CORE at TRC in New Providence, New Jersey. He is responsible for the development of innovative technology and research and development initiatives including the CORE Emerging Contaminants and PFAS teams. Dr. Rabah has more than 30 years of professional and academic experience with focus on innovative remedial technologies, groundwater modeling, and water resources planning. He served on the ITRC Remediation Management of Complex Sites Guidance team. He has authored and co‐authored over 25 technical publications.

Michael Eberle

Michael Eberle is a Technical Director within TRC in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mr. Eberle is also a member of TRC’s Centers of Research & Expertise (CORE) for in‐situ remediation and treatment train optimization. Mr. Eberle has over 30 years of environmental consulting experience, including over 27 years of experience designing, troubleshooting, and managing the operation of multiphase hydrocarbon product extraction, bioventing, and in‐situ/ex-situ groundwater remediation systems. Additionally, Mr. Eberle is tasked with lending his chemistry background to understanding, characterizing, and tracking emerging chemicals under regulatory scrutiny.

Jim Occhialini

Jim_Occhialini is a Vice President with Alpha Analytical in Mansfield, Massachusetts and he serves as the Specialty Services Practice Leader for the laboratory’s emerging contaminants, sediments, and hydrocarbon forensics project applications. Jim has over 40 years of environmental analytical and consulting experience working on a wide range of projects. Jim is active with a number of regulatory work groups and industry associations where he has given numerous technical presentations and training programs.

Phil Bassignani

Philip Bassignani is the director of the Emerging Contaminants and Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants department with Alpha Analytical in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Mr. Bassignani has over 20 years of environmental analytical experience with a strong background in method development for high‐resolution mass spectroscopy and tandem quadrupole mass spectroscopy. He has worked with groups both domestically and internationally on method development and given a wide range of oral presentations on both sample preparation and analytical method development at various conferences.

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