November 09, 2020
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of potentially thousands of synthetic compounds that have long been used in the manufacture of a variety of common products with stain-repellent and nonstick properties. Their signature strong fluorine and carbon bonds make them difficult to break down and, as a result, they are among the most persistent of today’s environmental pollutants. Alarmingly, PFAS can be found in drinking water and have been shown to accumulate in the body with the potential to cause multiple health problems, such as hormone disruption and cancer. Advances in mass spectrometry have facilitated the detection of known PFAS contaminants as well as the identification of poorly studied and novel compounds in watersheds. This article explores the detection of known and novel PFAS contaminants in aqueous film-forming foams and raw drinking water sources in North Carolina, using new advances in mass spectrometry and data acquisition to improve identification and quantitation.