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The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) Board of Directors has identified a high priority research topic in the area of managing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and has issued a request for pre-proposals (RFP) on the topic to support the long-term needs and strategic direction of the solid waste industry.
PFAS are a group of compounds that are man-made and are commonly used in industrial processes and consumer products such as food packaging, fire-fighting foams, metal plating, outdoor gear, popcorn bags, food wrappers, facial moisturizers, mattresses, carpeting, and cookware. Despite the widespread use of PFAS in everyday products, there are still significant knowledge gaps associated with the management of these compounds. Although consumer and industrial products have been identified as containing PFAS there have been limited studies that focus on the inventory of the specific types of products that contain PFAS, which ultimately end up as waste materials, discharged to wastewater treatment plants, or in other potential sinks. As regulations are being developed there needs to be sound science to address the many facets related to the management of PFAS-associated wastes.
For the purposes of this RFP, PFAS can include their associated precursors, transformation products, and byproducts. At a minimum, the focus should be on the most commonly monitored compounds that have standards or guidance values in place or being developed. Examples include, but are not limited to: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluoro-octane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), per- and poly-fluoropolyethers (PFPE), perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), per- and poly-fluorinated carboxylic acids, and GenX.
The management of PFAS-associated wastes can be through conventional pathways such as landfilling, recycling, composting, thermal conversion (i.e., incineration), and anaerobic digestion. Within these management pathways, a focus should include, where applicable, liquid (e.g., leachate and gas condensate) and gaseous (e.g., landfill gas) emissions. Groundwater quality associated with these management pathways are also applicable within this RFP. Other compounds of emerging concern (CEC) will not be considered (e.g., pharmaceuticals, hormones, and endocrine disruptors). Pre-proposals related to other CEC should be submitted as part of the general RFP.
Submissions of scientific research pre-proposals related to the management of PFAS are invited in the following areas:
Pre-proposals submitted in response to this RFP should consider the focus areas noted herein. Projects and research previously funded by the Foundation can be viewed on its website. Previously awarded grants have ranged from $15,000 to over $500,000 with the average grant amount in recent years being $160,000. Typical project durations are about 2 years.