PFAS in soil, groundwater and building fabric

A hidden risk for property owners and operators

PFAS: What is it?

There are increasing reports in the media about PFAS in soil and groundwater, which are hazardous to health. These are perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs). It is estimated that this group of substances comprises more than 10,000 individual substances. PFAS are harmful to health and are classed as “perpetual chemicals”, i.e. they are highly stable.

Environmental impact of PFAS

Due to this high stability, they are not degraded and accumulate in the environment. This is why PFAS are now found all over the world and have been detected in the most remote regions of the world. If PFAS are released into the environment, they are distributed in soil and water. Long-chain PFAS in particular accumulate in organisms. Short-chain PFAS are very mobile in water and soil and quickly reach the groundwater. Due to their low adsorption potential, short-chain PFAS can hardly be removed from groundwater and surface water during treatment. For only a few substances are there limit or orientation values for the levels in soil and groundwater.
PFOS und PFOA Summenformel Symbol
Grundwassermessstellen mit Stahlschutzrohr

Which sites can be affected by PFAS?

PFAS are water-, grease- and dirt-repellent. Due to these properties, the range of their use is enormous. They are found in coatings on textiles (outdoor clothing), paper (baking paper, fast food packaging) and cookware (pans, waffle irons), among other things. When PFAS are used in production, they end up in wastewater and waste, but often also in the soil and groundwater in the immediate vicinity of the production plant. The building fabric of production facilities can also be contaminated with PFAS.

PFAS were also used in fire-fighting foams because they form a film that minimises oxygen ingress. These foams were used in particular for large fires and the necessary training exercises. As a result, there are often significant PFAS discharges from extinguishing foam at airports, after fires in fuel depots and the chemical industry as well as on fire training grounds. Older fire extinguishers can also contain PFAS-containing fire extinguishing foams (AFFF).

Our services

In order to recognise hidden risks for your property, we recommend appropriate investigations. We are happy to assist you with our expertise and many years of experience:

  • Historical research on industrial production and suspected sites
  • Carrying out soil and groundwater analyses
  • Carrying out building substance investigations
  • Concepts / feasibility studies for the remediation / protection of contaminated soil and groundwater
  • Disposal concepts for contaminated soil and building rubble
  • Preparation of work and safety plans for work in contaminated areas
  • Expert supervision of remediation work

Locations & Directions

Fürstenwall 172
D - 40217 Duesseldorf
Phone +49 (0) 211 9629 2524 0
Fax +49 (0) 211 9629 2524 9

Locations & Directions

Friedrich-Ebert-Straße 135-137
D - 48153 Muenster
Phone +49 (0) 251 777567-11
Fax +49 (0) 251 777567-20