Mapping PFAS contamination in the Danish groundwater

Orbicon helped the Danish authorities map the extent of PFAS contamination in Danish groundwater and identify potential point sources

Protecting the Danish groundwater by investigating PFAS contamination

The Danish drinking water supply is based entirely on groundwater. It is the government’s official position that drinking water should be based on pure, untreated groundwater, which only needs aeration. For that reason, the Danish authorities make significant efforts to protect the groundwater from contamination.

The PFAS compounds PFOS and PFOA are classified as ‘carcinogenic’, ‘toxic for reproduction’, and ‘acutely toxic’ (Source: European Chemical Agency). The Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) therefore decided to fund a project that involved mapping the extent of PFAS contamination and identification of potential point sources in Danish groundwater. The Danish EPA granted funding through its Technology Programme for Soil and Groundwater Contamination. The Region of Southern Denmark was in charge of the project, and hired Orbicon to carry out the investigations.

This was the first time the national authorities in Denmark commissioned an investigation of the levels of PFAS in groundwater. The project aim was to identify potential point sources of groundwater PFAS pollution and to perform investigations at relevant sites. Another objective was to identify specific industrial activities that can be linked to higher potential point sources of PFAS contamination of soil and groundwater.

The project was an initiative under the Danish EPA’s risk management strategy for PFOS and PFOA and it examined PFOS, PFOA and seven other PFASs (6 long chained and 1 short chained).

Aikaterini Tsitonaki

Project Manager
+45 51 32 35 23

"The project was comprehensive and required the involvement of several site owners and public authorities. Our team maintained focus and covered a great range of competences, from site investigations and knowledge of transport mechanisms in soil and groundwater, to carrying out interviews with industry representatives..." 

Katerina Tsitonaki, Project Manager, Orbicon

Evaluating the risks and recommendations for future action

In the first phase of the project, Orbicon made an industry literature review and conducted interviews with industry representatives. This led to the identification of five industrial activities as potential point sources of PFAS contamination by looking at the amount of PFAS used and whether the industrial process was likely to cause a spill.

In the second phase, Orbicon performed 16 site investigations (groundwater sampling) and collected data on PFOS, PFOA and the seven other PFASs.

Based on our findings, we could give our client professional and high quality advice on the risks the different industries and activities pose in relation to PFAS contamination found in the groundwater.

In collaboration with the Danish EPA, we made a list of expert recommendations regarding which industries that should be further investigated in order to protect the Danish groundwater.

To ensure a healthy environment for the future, the world needs to recognize the challenges of PFAS contamination

Project
Client
The Region of Southern Denmark
Funding
The Danish EPA
Number of sites
16
Locations
Throughout Denmark
Year
2012-2014
Competencies
Role
Consultant
Project
management
Stakeholder
management and communication
Competencies
Expert knowledge
of PFAS chemistry and uses
Contaminated
site investigations
Contaminant transport
in soil and groundwater
Groundwater
sampling
Risk
assessment