PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) are common synthetic fluorinated chemicals of considerable global concern which enter the environment through routes such as the use of legacy fire-fighting foams. Some studies have found elevated levels of perfluorinated chemicals in fire fighters.
PFOS and PFOA are highly resistant to degradation, persistent in the environment, known to be toxic to humans and wildlife, accumulate along the food chain and are regulated by the International Stockholm Convention for Persistent Organic Pollutants.
Proficiency testing assesses the performance of different labs and analytical methods by comparing their results for a single sample. Participation in proficiency tests helps provide end-user confidence in data quality and the reliability of results.
In 2015 NMI conducted and completed Australia’s first proficiency study for PFOS and PFOA in soil and water. The project was funded by CRC CARE and carried out in collaboration with the Environment Protection Authority Victoria. This work has since expanded to an ongoing proficiency study program for a wider range of PFAS (poly- and per-fluoroalkyl substances) in a variety of environmental matrices. End-user workshops have been held after each proficiency study to discuss the significance of the results and invite input into the scope of upcoming studies.