The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) hosted their Risk e-Learning webinar series focused on research efforts to develop tools for sampling, monitoring, detecting, and characterizing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination.

Session I — Novel Analytical Chemistry Approaches for PFAS
Friday, October 6, 12:00 - 2:00 PM ET

To view the recorded archive, visit EPA's CLU-IN Training and Events webpage.

The first session featured SRP-funded investigators working on innovative methods to classify and/or quantify PFAS compounds.


  • Diana Aga, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Erin Baker, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Lee Ferguson, Ph.D., Duke University
  • Moderator: Andrea Tokranov, Ph.D., U.S. Geological Survey

Diana Aga, Ph.D., of the State University of New York at Buffalo (University at Buffalo) discussed work affiliated with her R01 grant, Model-aided Design and Integration of Functionalized Hybrid Nanomaterials for Enhanced Bioremediation of Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances. She covered various complementary techniques used to identify and quantify known and unknown PFAS in complex environmental samples, such as liquid chromatography (LC) with high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS), supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC), combustion ion chromatography (CIC), and fluorine nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (19F-NMR). Diana examined the advantages and limitations of these techniques in terms of their applications in PFAS analysis in wastewater and biosolids samples.

Erin S. Baker, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill illustrated how combining liquid chromatography, ion mobility spectrometry and mass spectrometry enables the evaluation of a broader range of chemical exposure, while uncovering novel species yet to be reported. Throughout life, people are frequently exposed to both naturally occurring and human-made chemicals such as PFAS. Associating these exposures to health risks can however be quite difficult since, for example, there are over 14,000 PFAS listed in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s PFAS Master List but only a few hundred standards available for targeted analytical tests and highlights how non-targeted approaches are of great importance.

Lee Ferguson, Ph.D., of Duke University discussed his research focused on the development of novel non-targeted, high-resolution mass spectrometry methods and cheminformatics approaches for characterizing PFAS in the environment. He also focused on the applications of these methods to assessment of PFAS contamination in drinking water and wastewater in North Carolina.

Session II — PFAS Sources and Mapping
Friday, October 20, 2:00 - 4:00 PM ET

To view the recorded archive, visit EPA's CLU-IN Training and Events webpage.

The second session highlighted case studies featuring SRP research to understand PFAS sources and to predict fate and transport.


  • Mark Brusseau, Ph.D., University of Arizona
  • Matt Farrell, North Carolina State University
  • Carla Ng, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
  • Moderator: Mohamed Ibrahim, Ph.D., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Matthew Farrell is a Ph.D. candidate working in the Planchart Lab at North Carolina State University (NC State) working under Antonio Planchart, Ph.D. Matthew presented on the bioaccumulation and trophic transfer of several PFAS through aquatic food chains. He exapnded on how this research was modeled through a system beginning with contaminated water and continuing with periphyton, larval mayflies, and zebrafish – tracking PFAS burdens through each step in the food chain.

Mark Brusseau, Ph.D., of the University of Arizona discussed the conceptual and mathematical models for PFAS retention being explored in his lab. He also described the chemometric tools used to develop the first quantitative structure-property relationship model for predicting interfacial adsorption coefficients for PFAS. This QSPR model can be combined with our comprehensive retention model to predict the retention and migration potential of PFAS in soil and groundwater systems.

Carla Ng, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh provided an update on activities to reveal PFAS contamination in Southwestern Pennsylvania, an area that has received relatively little focus compared to other parts of the state. The talk specifically addressed a case of accidental release in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, and efforts to understand the life cycle and contribution of legacy and ongoing industrial activity on PFAS profiles in the region.

Session III — PFAS Reference Materials, Libraries, and Passive Sampling
Wednesday, November 8, 2:00 - 4:00 PM ET

To view the recorded archive, visit EPA's CLU-IN Training and Events webpage

The final session in this series included federal and SRP researchers featuring useful resources that can aid in site characterization, such as PFAS reference materials, libraries, and passive samplers.


  • Jessica Reiner, Ph.D., National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Jitka Becanova, Ph.D., University of Rhode Island
  • Jackie Bangma, Ph.D., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Moderator: Suramya Waidyanatha, Ph.D., Division of Translational Toxicology, NIEHS

Jessica Reiner, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) presented on work being done focused on creating reference materials for quality assurance and quality control of measurements pertaining to organic pollutants in environmental and human matrices. NIST reference materials are produced to be homogeneous, stable, and with SI-traceable quantitate values for individual organic compounds. The class of organic contaminants per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) present measurement challenges to the analytical community that potentially affect the accuracy and precision of quantitative measurements. This presentation discussed the existing reference materials, along with the past and current efforts at NIST to produce new reference materials for PFAS.

Jacqueline Bangma, Ph.D., of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) spoke on the rapid assessment bioaccumulation screening (RABS) for emerging PFAS in mice exposed to industrially impacted surface water. The number of emerging and novel PFAS being identified in environmental samples has increased greatly in the past few decades as manufacturers move away from PFOS and PFOA production. However, all of these emerging PFAS have little to no toxicological information or standards available for purchase with which to complete toxicological studies. Therefore, the first question is how to identify and prioritize emerging PFAS for synthesis and future toxicological characterization. In this seminar, Jackie provided a look into her research and how it begins to address these questions using non-target analysis techniques, FluoroMatch software, environmental surface water, and animal models.

Jitka Becanova, Ph.D., of the University of Rhode Island presented on her work with passive sampling devices, providing innovative approaches to PFAS Site Characterization. Significant attention and concern have focused on the health and ecological implications of the widespread environmental distribution of compounds categorized as PFAS. Filling knowledge gaps for patterns of PFAS in various environmental compartments, their bioavailability, and bioaccumulation potential, will improve predictability and contribute to minimizing risks of legacy and novel PFAS. Laboratory and field studies to address these gaps can be advanced through the development of rapid and effective methods to assess PFAS concentrations in PFAS hotspots and predict PFAS concentration in the biological tissues.