Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2021WI004PFAS

Quantifying Multi-media Loadings of PFAS in the Great Lakes Basin Using Targeted and Non-targeted Analyses

Institute: Wisconsin
USGS Grant Number:
Year Established: 2021 Start Date: 2021-09-01 End Date: 2024-08-31
Total Federal Funds: $250,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $250,000

Principal Investigators: Christina K. Remucal

Abstract: Mitigating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in the Great Lakes is challenging because only a small number of the >5,000 compounds are typically quantified and because multiple sources may contribute to PFAS loadings. For example, there is a PFAS advisory for smelt in Lake Superior even though the lake has relatively low PFAS concentrations and the sources of PFAS are unknown. We propose to investigate PFAS in (1) 24 L. Superior tributaries in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, (2) wet and dry atmospheric deposition from 6 sites around L. Superior, and (3) open water and sediments of L. Superior. We will use targeted analysis in combination with non-targeted analysis, total oxidizable precursor measurements, and extractable organic fluorine analysis to quantify PFAS pools not accounted for using targeted methods. In the tributary samples, we will quantify PFAS in water, suspended particulate matter, the surface microlayer, and sediment to identify how partitioning influences loadings within the water column, as well as to investigate how geochemistry impacts partitioning. We will synthesize the resulting data to differentiate between tributary loading and atmospheric deposition as PFAS sources to Lake Superior. Sites will align with those included in a USGS study designed to estimate biological effects of PFAS in water and sediment. The proposed study was designed to provide PFAS characterization beyond the scope of the USGS study.