MD.20.005 – PFAS: Sensing, mitigation and substitution

Route: Measuring and detecting: anything, anytime, anywhere

Cluster question: 006 How can we protect and preserve the quality of the substrate for humans and the environment while leaving room for social and economic development?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of man-made chemicals which normally do not occur in nature. During the last decades, these PFAS compounds have been produced and extensively applied in for example cosmetics and the textile industry. PFAS are persistent in the environment, meaning that these compounds do not break down and will accumulate over time in soil and water. Various studies indicate PFAS compounds are potential to cause liver and kidney problems, lowered immune system and cancer. Therefore a comprehensive approach is needed to address the current alarming PFAS issues.

As research topic, we propose to address the current PFAS issues in 3 stages: the past, the present and the future. We aim to answer questions like how to efficiently treat contaminated soil, or how to clean drinking water that is contaminated with PFAS (mitigation, past). We aim to develop new analytical strategies or sensors to quickly analyze ground or soil at the location without the need of an analytical laboratory. Via this approach, new hotspots can be quickly identified which will aid licensing authorities and the policy makers (sensing, present). Finally, since PFAS compounds find many (industrial) applications, we aim to categorize these applications in order to identify potential and non-persistent substitutions for PFAS compounds. When the majority of PFAS can be eliminated in products and industrial applications, future contamination can be minimized (substitution, future).

TNO can contribute in the development of new analytical strategies and PFAS sensors. By combining various developed technologies within our laboratories, we propose the development of an apparatus to detect and quantify PFAS in soil and ground water. Following this strategy, such apparatus could be ‘tailor-made’ to detect the desired PFAS compound which will allow for very specific measurements at a potentially contaminated location, without the need of a laboratory.


mitigation, persistent, PFAS, policy, sensors


Organisation Nederlandse Organisatie voor toegepast-natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek (TNO)
Name Dr. D.H.A. (Devin) Boom