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Unlocking the Secrets of PFAS Testing Methods


RJ Lee Group

Discover the essential techniques and methods used in PFAS testing to ensure accurate results.


The Importance of PFAS Testing: Environmental and Regulatory

PFAS testing plays a critical role in assessing the environmental and health risks associated with these substances. By measuring the levels of PFAS in various environmental samples, such as water, soil, and air, scientists can determine the extent of contamination and evaluate potential exposure pathways.

Furthermore, PFAS testing is crucial for regulatory purposes. Many countries have established guidelines and regulations regarding the acceptable levels of PFAS in different environmental media. Testing ensures compliance with these standards and helps identify sources of contamination, enabling effective remediation actions.

Manufacturers are increasingly affected by industry standards and regulations that limit and even outran ban the use of PFAS chemicals in consumer and commercial goods. Determing if a product contains PFAS chemicals is a critical first step in identifying their source and taking steps to eliminate the contamination. 

Common PFAS Testing Methods

Several methods are commonly used for PFAS testing, each with its advantages and limitations. To achieve the most accurate and comprehensive results, a combination of methods is often used. 

  • Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS): LC-MS is one of the primary methods for analyzing PFAS in environmental samples. It involves separating PFAS compounds using liquid chromatography and then identifying and quantifying them based on their mass-to-charge ratios using mass spectrometry.

  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS): GC-MS is another widely used technique for PFAS analysis, particularly for volatile PFAS compounds. It involves vaporizing and separating PFAS compounds using gas chromatography before analyzing them with mass spectrometry.

  • LCMS_SMHigh-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC): HPLC is used in conjunction with various detectors (such as UV-Vis or fluorescence) to separate and quantify PFAS compounds based on their interaction with a stationary phase and mobile phase in a column.

  • Solid-Phase Extraction (SPE): SPE is a sample preparation technique commonly used to extract PFAS from environmental samples before analysis. It involves passing the sample through a solid phase, where PFAS compounds are retained while interfering substances are washed away, allowing for cleaner samples for analysis.

  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA): ELISA is an immunological technique used for rapid screening of PFAS in environmental samples. It involves the use of antibodies that specifically bind to PFAS compounds, allowing for their detection and quantification based on colorimetric or fluorescent signals.

  • Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS): While less common for PFAS analysis, ICP-MS can be used for certain types of PFAS, particularly those containing elements like fluorine. It involves atomizing and ionizing the sample in an inductively coupled plasma source before analyzing the ions using mass spectrometry.

  • Total Organic Fluorine (TOF) Analysis: TOF analysis measures the total amount of organic fluorine in a sample, which can be indicative of the presence of PFAS compounds. This technique does not identify individual PFAS compounds but provides an overall assessment of PFAS contamination.

Challenges in PFAS Testing: Overcoming Analytical Limitations

Despite the availability of many different testing methods, PFAS testing and analysis still poses several challenges. One major challenge is the wide range of PFAS compounds that exist, with new ones being discovered regularly. Each compound may require specific extraction, separation, and detection techniques, making comprehensive analysis time-consuming and resource-intensive. 

chem testing

Another challenge is the low concentrations at which PFAS are typically found in environmental samples. PFAS can be present at trace levels, requiring highly sensitive analytical techniques to accurately measure their concentrations. Matrix interferences and co-elution of compounds can further complicate the analysis, necessitating careful method development and validation.

The speed of testing is another significant challenge, organizations are often forced to wait weeks or even months for test results before they can take action. An increased focus by the EPA and new regulations have created even more demand for testing. 

Future of PFAS Testing: Innovations and Advancements

The future of PFAS testing holds promising innovations and advancements. Researchers are exploring alternative techniques, such as non-targeted screening and suspect screening, to comprehensively assess PFAS contamination without prior knowledge of specific compounds. These approaches leverage high-resolution mass spectrometry and advanced data analysis algorithms to identify known and unknown PFAS compounds in complex samples.

soil sampleAdditionally, efforts are underway to develop portable and field-deployable PFAS testing devices, allowing for real-time on-site analysis. These advancements would enable rapid screening of contaminated sites, reducing the time and cost associated with laboratory-based testing.

One promising technology is the use of biosensors for PFAS detection. Biosensors are devices that combine a biological component, such as antibodies or enzymes, with a transducer to convert the biological response into a measurable signal. They offer rapid and selective detection of PFAS with high sensitivity and can be used in field applications. 

Furthermore, there is a growing focus on understanding the fate and transport of PFAS in the environment. This knowledge is essential for predicting and managing PFAS contamination, as well as developing effective remediation strategies.


PFAS testing is a vital tool in assessing the environmental and health risks posed by these persistent chemicals. However, understanding how products and facilities come into contact with PFAS compounds and determining alternatives is how organizations will remain in regulatory compliance.

At RJ Lee Group, rapid and reliable test results are only the beginning. We work closely with our clients to find solutions to their PFAS challenges. Whether its developing testing non-standard methods to meet their unique needs or consulting on product development and remediation efforts, we have the scientific expertise and experience you need to meet current and coming PFAS regulations. 




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