PFAS contaminants have become ubiquitous in the environment, primarily due to their presence in aqueous film forming foams (AFFFs), which were utilised extensively by civilian and military authorities due to their effectiveness in extinguishing liquid fuel fires.
This has resulted in PFAS impacted soil, sediment and water at many of these locations. Older formulations of AFFF contained a number of PFAS contaminants of concern, including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). More recently, enHealth advised that perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) should also be considered and has developed screening criteria for drinking water and recreational water.
As PFAS provide materials with resistance to heat, stains, grease and water, they have also been used in many common household applications such as fabrics, furniture and carpets, packaged food containers, non-stick cookware as well as some industrial processes.
PFAS contaminants are emerging as a global concern because they are persistent, bioaccumulate and are highly mobile in the environment. Research into their toxicity is ongoing.