Grantee Research Project Results
Sorbent-Amended Caps for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in SedimentEPA Grant Number: SV840421
Title: Sorbent-Amended Caps for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Sediment
Investigators: Lampert, David , Sandhu, Amandeep , Shapiro, Matthew
Institution: Illinois Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Project Period: November 1, 2022 through October 31, 2024
Project Amount: $100,000
RFA: 17th Annual P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2022) Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Sustainable and Healthy Communities
The widespread existence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the environment represents an emerging issue due to their stability, bioaccumulation potential, and risks to human and ecological well-being. Areas where PFAS have been released into the environment have contaminated soils and sediments that now pose bioaccumulation risks. One approach for risk reduction is to contain the contamination in-situ to prevent exposure. Previous research into assessment and remediation of contaminated sites has demonstrated that in-situ containment and stabilization for pollutants that are resistant to degradation is often the best strategy. Ex-situ approaches require pumping and treating large quantities of material, which is prohibitively expensive, and managing additional residuals requiring disposal and containment. The project will provide new insight into the efficacy of PFAS remediation using sediment capping technologies. Capping is a proven approach for contaminated sediment management, but there have been limited efforts to assess capping in PFAS-contaminated areas. This project will develop a framework for remediation of PFAS-contaminated sediments and provide insight into the costs and benefits of alternative materials for sediment caps.
The specific objectives of Phase II of this project are to: (1) conduct laboratory-scale experiments to examine the effectiveness of sediment caps for PFAS containment that include pore water upwelling and bioturbation; (2) extend PFAS analytical methods to include a larger suite of compounds; (3) characterize PFAS migration through caps using fate and transport models; (4) perform a remedial design investigation for a PFAS-contaminated area; and (5) assess the political and economic feasibility of PFAS-related regulations.
The project team will use laboratory-scale microcosms of riverine environments to assess the efficacy of capping for containing PFAS-contaminated sediments. The microcosms will simulate advection, diffusion, sorption, and bioturbation processes and analyze the transport of PFAS under field-simulated conditions for a variety of capping alternatives. PFAS concentration will be monitored using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) for a large suite of PFAS in sediments, cap materials, interstitial pore water, and organism tissues. A novel capping model, CapSim, will be used to interpret the results from the microcosms to assess the importance of various processes on PFAS fate and transport. The resulting data and model will then be used to perform a preliminary design for a field-contaminated site. Cost estimates for various cap material combinations will be developed and used to assess the most economical approach for PFAS risk reduction. The political and economic feasibility of PFAS-related regulations will be analyzed using a framing analysis to set the issue on the policy agenda. Results will be communicated to these communities as well as other key actors throughout the project. An interdisciplinary student team from engineering, food science, and political science will work to address this critical sustainability challenge, which will provide important educational benefits to the students, communities affected by PFAS, and entities that manage PFAS contaminated sites.
The project is expected to provide new insight into the efficacy of PFAS remediation using capping technologies. Capping is a proven approach for contaminated sediment management, but there have been limited efforts to assess capping in PFAS-contaminated areas. This project will develop a framework for remediation of PFAS-contaminated sediments and provide insight into the costs and benefits of alternative materials for sediment caps. The policy analysis will also provide important insight into the development of regulations for PFAS-contaminated areas. The results are expected to be of value to communities that are at risk of exposure to PFAS, many of which are historically disadvantaged. The success of the technology will be evaluated based on the reduction in pore water concentrations from the underlying sediment to the overlying water, estimated to breakthrough, and costs for cap implementation.
Supplemental Keywords:Sediments, soils, adsorption, chemical transport, bioavailability, remediation, cleanup, environmental chemistry, monitoring
P3 Phase I:Sorbent-Amended Caps for PFAS-Contaminated Sediments | Final Report
The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.