Measure AOF in waters with Metrohm combustion ion chromatography (CIC)

«Forever chemicals» are a class of nearly 10,000 compounds including per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) and other perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). The stability of PFASs in the environment leads to their bioaccumulation and biomagnification in the food chain, especially for long-chain compounds such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, or «C8») and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). The sheer amount of forever chemicals increases by the year, and little information is known about how the majority of these compounds affect humans and the environment. These substances are a challenge to monitor individually and quantify in low concentrations, even in drinking water. Expensive analytical instrumentation and experience is required to determine a small selection of individual PFASs, and such analyses can be time-consuming and difficult to validate.

A large fraction of synthetic organofluorine substances is covered by the sum of all adsorbable organic fluorine (AOF) in waters. Non-targeted screening of AOF with combustion ion chromatography (CIC) can be a faster, easier, and more robust alternative to the determination of individual PFASs with more costly, complex setups. Measurement of AOF in water samples as an initial screening step gives a fast overview of the actual amount of organic fluorinated compounds present which can be followed by targeted analyses of individual PFASs if indicated by higher AOF concentrations.

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This white paper covers the general history of PFASs, how they can enter the food chain, and how they affect our health. It presents regulations and targeted analysis methods suggested for determination of synthetic organofluorine compounds, and how the sum parameter of adsorbable organic fluorine (AOF) is a better choice for non-targeted screening of water samples for PFASs.