By Kevin Westerling,
As the federal government zeros in on curbing the impact of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through its PFAS Strategic Roadmap, states have taken initiative by instituting their own mitigation measures and mandates. Much of the effort revolves around monitoring for the presence of these "forever chemicals" — namely PFOS and PFOA — in drinking water and the environment, as well as the suspension of manufacturing and the irresponsible disposal of PFAS from industrial entities.
Ultimately, the problem of PFAS can only be truly resolved through treatment — i.e., removing the "forever" from their moniker by safely eliminating these chemicals from the environment, never to return. So how do we adequately remediate? Michelle Bellanca, CEO of cleantech company Claros Technologies, recently shared her thoughts on how to fix the nation’s PFAS problem.
Note: Additional PFAS perspectives and solutions are available at Water Online’s PFAS Resource Center.
How can PFAS be removed effectively from water sources?
The PFAS regulatory and liability landscape is changing fast. In less than a year, regulated PFAS compounds have grown from 20 to 40 — still just a fraction of the 5,000+ known PFAS/PFOS compounds. Currently, 12 states are moving ahead of the EPA to require PFAS testing and targets to levels below 2 parts per trillion (ppt). Some proposed regulations could ban any new use of PFAS in manufacturing. PFAS incineration was recently banned by several states and by the Department of Defense. The liabilities and risks — including costly fines and litigation — are real.
Filters containing activated carbon or reverse osmosis membranes are said to be effective at removing PFAS from water supplies. While there are wastewater treatment solutions in the market now, PFAS waste, including spent filter materials, are sent to landfills or are incinerated. Research has shown these disposal methods do not break the carbon-fluorine bonds, resulting in reemissions of PFAS into the air, water, and land.
Claros’ PFAS remediation ecosystem represents a significant step towards a comprehensive lifecycle approach to waste management backed by detailed analytics and sound science.
What are the technological advances in PFAS capture and destruction?
Traditional PFAS filtration is unwieldy, inefficient, and expensive, and PFAS disposal by landfill or incineration only re-releases these highly toxic, human-made chemicals into the environment. Current mitigation technologies are costly, disruptive, and falling behind regulatory standards.
ClaroSafe PFAS is a new, proprietary technology platform that reduces risks and externalities by meeting — or exceeding — current and pending regulations to provide an end-of-life solution for PFAS from capture to safe destruction. We offer an effective and affordable way to stay ahead of regulatory and liability pitfalls and showcase your environmental stewardship and corporate responsibility.
Our solution involves a cost-effective filtration method to capture PFAS, an innovative concentration step, and an eco-friendly destruction method. In a head-to-head comparison, ClaroSafe PFAS was shown to have greater than seven times the longevity of granular activated carbon.
Our proprietary concentration and defluorination process break the incredibly strong carbon-fluorine bonds, leaving only safe, naturally occurring elements.
How do we raise awareness about PFAS contamination?
We are relying on the Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security as well as the Environmental Protection Agency to research, study, and regulate PFAS levels in our country. The EPA released the PFAS Action Plan as well as the PFAS Strategic Roadmap, which outlines their commitment to action through 2024. Staying informed about these initiatives is critical.
As part of the EPA's Strategic Roadmap, their approach ensures science-based decision-making. EPA will invest in scientific research to fill gaps in understanding of PFAS to identify which additional PFAS may pose human health and ecological risks at which exposure levels, and to develop methods to test, measure, remove, and destroy them. Claros, and others in the scientific community, are focused on this problem. We've developed a process to detect and destroy PFAS in wastewater, leaving only detoxified water and naturally occurring elements.
Michelle Bellanca is the co-founder and CEO of Claros. Previously, she held a variety of leadership positions at 3M Corporation as a Global Business Director and the Managing Director of the Strategic Ventures Asia Pacific. She holds an MBA and a BA in Economics & International Relations.