A complete guide to PFAS analysis​

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a diverse group of synthetic chemicals that have been used in both industry and consumer products since the 1940s. The extreme stability of PFAS compounds has become an asset to consumer and industrial products. However, PFAS are extremely persistent and accumulate in the human body and the environment. The negative impacts on human health are extensive and continue to be a key area of investigation. Human exposure to PFAS can occur in many ways through household products such as nonstick coatings, waterproof or stain-resistant materials, house dust, or via ingestion through contaminated drinking water or food.

To better understand the environmental fate of PFAS, the ecological impacts, and the potential risk to public health, there is a need for robust analytical techniques that can provide unbiased quantitative and qualitative data. In this resource, explore comprehensive analytical solutions and methods that deliver high-quality ultra-trace quantification and provide confidence in your PFAS data so that you can easily meet regulatory requirements today and in the future.​

Sample preparation and contamination control best practices

​One of the biggest challenges faced during PFAS analysis is the prominent occurrence of PFAS in everyday items that enter or are used in laboratory environments. Common contamination sources include lotions, sanitizers, Teflon® tape, antifog eyewear wipes, permanent markers, or aluminum foil. Testing sample preparation items such as labware, reagents, and solid phase extraction cartridges is crucial to controlling contamination and ensuring reliable testing in a shared laboratory setting.

In these resources, explore how Waters can help deploy your preferred PFAS workflow in your routine workspace through:​

  • Best practices and key considerations in analyzing PFAS and controlling contamination.
  • A versatile sample clean-up SPE device, which is quality-control tested for 32 PFAS, hence reducing the risk of false positive results from a critical step in the workflow.​​

Optimizing your LC-MS/MS workflow

To reach detection limits low enough to satisfy regulatory requirements, whether it be in food, water, soil, or other sample types, a carefully designed workflow must be implemented that includes appropriate sample preparation, chromatographic retention, and separation to take full advantage of the mass spectrometer’s detection capabilities.

Uncovering a solution that takes into consideration your sample type, scope of analytes of interest, and is able to meet your detection requirements can be challenging. Waters can help you with your method selection exploring customized solutions to help your lab meet its PFAS analysis requirements.

For those water methods that do not require the use of SPE clean-up and preconcentration, explore alternatives using direct injection:

PFAS and the challenges in development of a direct injection method by UPLC-MS/MS​

The European Commission recently recast its Drinking Water Directive to impose the monitoring of set limits on specified PFAS to come into force for all its member states within two years. In this video, the development of a direct injection method utilizing the ACQUITY™ I-Class and Xevo TQ-XS is explored. The method developed focuses on expanding the scope of analytes and reducing the limits of quantification achievable.​

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Improved sensitivity for PFAS using a direct injection approach on Xevo TQ Absolute

Advancing MS technologies can ensure challenging levels can be reached, routinely, repeatably, while bringing efficiency to your laboratory.  Reduce downtime for cleaning and maintenance, increase column lifetime, and improve chromatographic performance by injecting 5X lower sample volumes when utilizing the enhanced negative ion performance of the Xevo TQ Absolute, all delivered with 50% less power consumption and lab air conditioning demands.​

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Routine determination of TFA and DFA in water by direct injection using UPLC-MS/MS​

Trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) and difluoroacetic acid (DFA) are considered ultra-short-chain PFAS, which are defined by a single carbon fluorinated with two or three fluorenes.  Due to the analytical challenges in achieving reliable chromatographic retention, they can sometimes be overlooked when it comes to PFAS analysis. This app note demonstrates a direct injection UPLC™-MS/MS method for the determination of TFA and DFA in surface and drinking waters. ​

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Data analysis and interpretation

Whilst quantification itself is a routine experiment, the volume of data generated for review can be significant. With multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) transitions per compound, retention time, ion ratio, peak integration, calibration curve data, and quality control standards to be assessed, data review can create bottlenecks in routine laboratory environments.

The waters_connect™ for Quantitation software can improve your productivity and confidence in PFAS analysis by:

  • Reducing the training burden in generating high-quality LC-MS/MS data​
  • Promptly identifying injections that fall outside the laboratory’s analytical quality system
  • Reviewing data more efficiently and consistently
  • Visually and quickly identifying samples with suspected residues

Comprehensive workflow solutions

PFAS regulations continue to trend toward lower detection requirements. Whether you are analyzing different types of water, food from plant or animal origin, food contact materials, cosmetics, or body fluids it is critical to continue to develop your PFAS workflows in order to continue to meet regulatory and advisory standards.

In these resources, explore optimized methods and complete workflow solutions for ​PFAS testing across a range of sample types including:​

  • Surface and ground waters
  • Soil and sediments​
  • Drinking water​
  • Biological fluids​
  • Food​
Explore how to reach ultimate sensitivity with your PFAS analysis below:​

Discover how the latest innovations at Waters can help you reach ultimate sensitivity when performing PFAS analysis using environmental water samples as an example matrix.​

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Tackle the most stringent PFAS limits and get ready to conquer your analytical challenges with the only sample-to-reporting workflow solution in the market.

You need a bat to play baseball and you need a hoop to play basketball. Without the right equipment, how are you expected to achieve Absolute Performance?

From sample prep to proficiency testing, Waters is committed to revolutionizing your PFAS analysis. Strengthen your analytical game plan to achieve detection levels as precise as single-digit ppq with the Xevo TQ Absolute. Safeguard yourself against contamination and control interference with Waters PFAS LC Kits and Oasis Wax SPE.

Xevo TQ Absolute

With the Xevo TQ Absolute’s robustness, significantly increased sensitivity for negative ionizing compounds compared to the previous product, and flexible software options, your lab can achieve time and cost savings with reproducible, complete results.

Oasis WAX for PFAS Analysis​

Oasis WAX for PFAS Analysis is quality control screened for trace levels of 32 PFAS compounds. Designed specifically for PFAS testing laboratories, these solid-phase extraction products enable you to perform low level quantification with confidence.​

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PFAS Solution Installation Kits​

PFAS Solution Installation Kits provide everything you need to get your Waters’ analytical system PFAS ready. The kit includes necessary items to help minimize PFAS-containing components within your system.​

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Proficiency testing and reference materials​

Ensuring quality at every turn in your workflow, Waters ERA delivers reference materials you need to be confident about your data.​

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waters_connect for Quantitation​

Enabling the next generation of quantitative analysis, waters_connect for Quantitation software allows up to 50% time reduction in data review and streamlined workflows to focus on samples of interest.​

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