PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) continue to receive growing attention worldwide as understanding of their occurrence and impacts grows. Significant advances have been made in analytical methods, fate and transport, human health and ecotoxicology relevant to PFAS environmental contamination. Many of these advances are reflected in guidance documents such as the PFAS NEMP 2.0 (HEPA 2020). While this allows improved management and decision making for many of the issues, there remain key issues with substantial information gaps.
This presentation takes a high-level look at a conceptual model for PFAS pathways from sources to receptors. Focus is placed on key sources and pathways to include important learnings, and more importantly, raise issues that still need further advances for effective management. One area of significant improvement in understanding, now driving remediation options analysis, is our understanding of PFAS behaviour in source zone soils. Other areas with significant gaps needing attention include sewage treatment, both in terms of PFAS in effluents and biosolids. This in turn results in key question around the sources of PFAS to sewage treatment plants. The conclusions are supported with reference to key recent research publications from Australia and overseas.