At Southern Scientific, we’ve reconfigured our drinking water sampling procedure to comply with the best available guidelines on PFAS sampling. As the compound PFAS can be found in everyday household items such as cookware and clothing, contamination when sampling is a high risk.
In this video, we will outline the steps to taking, labelling, and transporting a PFAS sample so it will safely arrive at the laboratory.
What are PFAS Chemicals?
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of man-made chemicals that are used in a wide variety of products because of their ability to repel water and oil. They have been used in nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, and firefighting foams. PFAS are also known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and can accumulate in the body over time. Some studies have linked PFAS to various health problems, including cancer, immune system problems, and developmental issues in children.
What are the precautions to take before PFAS sampling?
There are some additional precautions to take before PFAS sampling.
- Clothing that is water resistant, such as a Hi-Vis jacket, cannot be worn when sampling for PFAS compounds. Ideally, wear a coat that is not washed with fabric softener.
- When sampling, avoid touching clothing, your face and hair, particularly if you are wearing makeup, hand cream, sunscreen or other personal care products. Long hair should be tied back.
- Ensure your hands are washed well before sampling.
- A fresh pair of gloves must be worn when sampling. Use nitrile gloves rather than latex.
- Keep food, especially wrappers, away from the sample area. Avoid contact with these products before you start sampling.
- It’s recommended that you also follow all normal drinking water sampling guidelines. For instance, it is much easier to sample from a tap rather than using pumps and bailers
What equipment is used specifically for PFAS sampling?
When samples are not taken directly to the lab and therefore pass a lot of hands before getting there, it is good practice to place bottles in a PFAS-free plastic Ziplock bag before putting them into the cooler box.
What’s the process for PFAS sampling?
- As mentioned before, ensure the area around the sink is clean and free from typical PFAS items.
- Let the tap run for at least 5 minutes at a high flow rate
- Before sampling, reduce the flow rate
- Using new nitrile gloves, collect the sample for PFAS first before gathering samples for any other parameters using other containers. This avoids contact with any other sample container, bottles or packing materials.
- As with all other samples, do not place the sample bottle cap on any surface when collecting the sample, and avoid all contact with the inside of the sample bottle or its cap when opening bottles, be careful not to touch the inside of the cap or the bottle.
- Place the bottle under the stream of water. Fill the water to the shoulder of the bottle. Don’t let the water overflow from the bottle.
- Take a sample and close the bottle once filled.
- Place the bottle in a cooler box with ice or ice packs that are PFAS-free. PFAS samples should be stored separately from other samples.
The science of PFAS sampling is changing as more attention is paid to these compounds. At Southern Scientific, we do as much research as possible to stay on top of these updates in best practices.
If you’re concerned about PFAS chemicals in your drinking water and want to learn more about keeping your supply safe, our newsletter is perfect for you. 🏠
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