Onvector’s mission is to break up a problematic molecule. That molecule can be any of hundreds of different types forming the wide variety of PFAS compounds.
Learn more about why it is important to destroy PFAS, where PFAS tends to accumulate, the technologies available to deal with it, and the role Onvector is playing in building a better world.
The durability of PFAS molecules is one reason PFAS are such key ingredients in firefighting foams containing aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF, or “A-triple-F”).
For decades, AFFF has been a firefighter’s friend, prized for its abilities to spread rapidly across the surface of most hydrocarbon fuels, providing dramatic fire knockdown. AFFF has stopped a lot of fires, saved a lot of buildings, and protected a lot of lives.
There are three main areas in which PFAS is causing concern among the firefighting community: Employee health & safety, Current firefighting systems, and Impacts at fire-training sites
Landfills and leachate
As the preferred destination for trash, it’s to be expected that landfills will also become repository for many end-of-lifespan products (outerwear, non-stick cookware, mostly-empty lipstick tubes and many more) that contain PFAS.
As precipitation flows through the landfill, it picks up constituents along the way, including lead, mercury, pesticides … and PFAS. This “leachate” must be treated to remove those harmful constituents, before it can be released to surface water.
Many landfill operators solve this problem by pipelining or trucking their leachate to a nearby water treatment plant. However, this is becoming less practical for the treatment plants and their owners (in many cases, municipalities). This is because most treatment plants are designed deal with organic materials such as sewage; they’re not set up for industrial wastewater, or landfill leachate. Their treatment systems aren’t fully effective at removing PFAS from their effluent before it’s discharged. Owners are getting concerned about regulatory sanction, on their effluent and its leachate-derived PFAS, and increasingly are just saying “no” to landfill leachate.
Accordingly, more landfill operators are looking into ways to concentrate and isolate the PFAS in their leachate.
PFAS may also be present in the groundwater and soil of industrial sites. This is particularly properties where PFAS has been manufactured, products have been made that incorporate PFAS, or where PFAS has been used as part of a process – possibly degreasers and lubricants.
Hotspots of PFAS contamination may have occurred, and property owners may need to deal with those impacts before the land is sold.
With the trend to divert as much solid waste as possible away from landfills, many municipalities are encouraging organic waste be converted to compost, which can then be spread on municipal gardens or sold to the public. But one downside to this is that the organic waste often contains pizza boxes, fast-food wrappers and other materials that may contain PFAS. This spreads the PFAS further – particularly if that compost is used to produce food crops.
Municipal and industrial water treatment often produces “sludge,” which is the solids left behind after the treatment process. This sludge often contains elevated levels of PFAS, sometimes because of the landfill leachate that passed through the plant. In some cases, the sludge is trucked right back to the landfill.