Technical article: Choosing effective PFC decontamination and a sense of realitySpecialist article: Effective PFC decontamination and a sense of reality

Technical article: Choosing effective PFC decontamination and a sense of realitySpecialist article: Effective PFC decontamination and a sense of reality

In analytical chemistry, a “zero” as an exact number is technically unattainable, especially when it comes to detecting traces of chemical compounds such as perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFAS). This is due to the limitations of the detection methods and the physical properties of the substances to be analyzed.

The analysis of PFAS requires extremely sensitive and specific detection methods due to their low concentrations in the environment and their complex chemical structure. As a rule, high-resolution instruments such as mass spectrometers are used to identify and quantify PFAS.

The technical minimum level for the detection of PFAS is typically in the range of micrograms (µg), nanograms (ng) or even picograms (pg). A microgram corresponds to a millionth of a gram, a nanogram to a billionth of a gram and a picogram to a trillionth of a gram. Even at these extremely low concentrations, it is often possible to detect traces of PFAS.

However, a “zero” in the sense of a complete absence of PFAS cannot be achieved, as even the most sensitive detection methods have a certain background noise and can always detect small amounts of PFAS due to contamination or non-specific reactions.

Therefore, it is important to understand that the indication of “zero” in analytical chemistry cannot be taken in the literal sense, but rather as a value close to the detection limit of the analytical instrument used.Per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) represent a diverse group of chemicals that can differ in their properties and behavior. Some PFCs are more persistent and bioaccumulative than others, meaning they can remain in the environment longer and accumulate in living organisms. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the specific composition of the PFC mixture and the environmental conditions when planning decontamination measures.

The selection of the decontamination method plays a crucial role in the success of the measures. There are various approaches to PFC decontamination, including physical, chemical and biological methods. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of effectiveness, cost and environmental impact. The choice of the appropriate method should therefore be made carefully and depend on various factors, such as the type and concentration of PFCs, the type of contaminated material and local conditions.

When carrying out decontamination measures, it is important to consider the potential impact on the environment. Some processes can have side effects or leave residues that could themselves cause environmental problems. A comprehensive assessment of the environmental impact is therefore crucial to ensure that decontamination does not have undesirable consequences.

Overall, PFC decontamination requires a realistic approach that takes into account the specific local conditions.

​Instead of unrealistic zero-tolerance approaches, the goal should be to reduce PFC exposure to an acceptable level. As a specialist company, we specialize in generating a concentrated, controllable and verifiable amount of PFC/PFAS as part of a plant decontamination. If carried out successfully, this amount is well below one microgram and settles in the double-digit nanogram range.

It is important to emphasize that PFCs are ubiquitous in our environment and that the question is not whether PFAS is present, but in what quantity. A realistic assessment and effective control of PFC pollution are therefore of utmost importance for the protection of people and the environment.

Formative aspect

With regard to legal issues, it is important to note that the responsibility for the decontamination of PFCs lies with both the operators of facilities and the specialist companies. Operators must ensure that decontamination measures are carried out in accordance with applicable regulations and guidelines in order to avoid environmental damage.

Specialist companies, on the other hand, must ensure that their decontamination procedures are effective and comply with legal requirements. This includes compliance with environmental protection laws and consideration of official permits and requirements.

When planning and carrying out decontamination measures, both technical and legal aspects should therefore be taken into account to ensure effective and legally compliant decontamination.

Analytical perspective

Scientific research in the field of PFC decontamination has provided important insights in recent years to help develop effective and sustainable solutions. Different approaches have been investigated, including physical methods such as adsorption and filtration, chemical processes such as oxidation and reduction, and biological degradation processes by microorganisms.

One challenge is to test and optimise the effectiveness of these methods under real conditions. This requires close cooperation between research institutions, industry and authorities to collect, analyse and interpret data.

An important focus of research is also on assessing the long-term effects of decontamination measures. It is important to understand how environmental pollution changes over time and how long-term impacts on ecosystems and human health can be minimised.

In addition, risk communication and risk management issues play an important role. The public must be informed about the risks of PFCs and appropriate measures must be taken to minimise and control these risks.


PFC decontamination is a complex process that requires careful planning, implementation and monitoring. It is important to set realistic goals and select appropriate methods that meet the specific requirements on site.
By taking a holistic approach that combines scientific knowledge, legal aspects and technical solutions, we can develop effective and sustainable solutions to reduce exposure to PFCs in the environment and protect human and natural health.

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