(WFRV) – From firefighting foam to non-stick cookware, PFAS have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1950s. These man-made chemicals will not degrade in the environment naturally, but research is showing positive results in destroying PFAS.

“We are trying to treat the contaminated groundwater and to see how our treatment technology really works in the real world” says Zekun Liu, Ph.D. Candidate, University of California – Riverside.

That is the work a group of researchers from the University of California Riverside are working on. Lab results have shown promising results in destroying PFAS.

“So basically, you put some chemicals like Sulfites and Iodide in the contaminated wastewater and you have a UV light shining on the solution. And at that time sulfite and iodide will generate a highly reactive species called hydrated electron, and that species will destroy PFAS very fast,” says Liu.

The Wisconsin DNR has ongoing projects to capture PFAS in areas where PFAS have been detected such as locations north of Green Bay and in Wausau.

“For our collaboration project we just focus on how to capture PFAS. We know PFAS contamination is an issue here in the state of Wisconsin. We have found PFAS in groundwater, I want to get PFAS out of groundwater as fast as possible,” says Yin Wang, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

The WI DNR has set a standard for PFAS in drinking water at 70 PPT. At this level, no health effects are expected over a lifetime of exposure.

“Some PFAS concentration might be very low so maybe that is not a big issue. But if your private well is close to a historically contaminated site, maybe the concentration is really high. So, you don`t want a long-term exposure to that PFAS,” says Liu.

Researchers from UC-Riverside are now working on taking their technology from the lab and using it at a nearby contaminated site to study its real-world effectiveness.