University of Notre Dame
Dr. Graham Peaslee is an experimental nuclear physicist at the University of Notre Dame who has pioneered the development of the PIGE method to screen for PFAS in environmental samples. He has over 200 peer-reviewed publications in both basic and applied science - most with student co-authors.
Developing PIGE into a Rapid Screening Test for PFAS
Total organic fluorine methods have a vital role to play in the determination of the extent of PFAS reservoirs at contaminated sites as well as in the total mass balance approach to any remediation or sequestration technology to address contaminated sites. While targeted LC-MS/MS analysis will remain the gold standard by which quantification and speciation of the individual PFAS analytes will be measured, total organic fluorine measurements can also complement the high precision approach used predominantly to date. One method for total fluorine: Particle Induced Gamma-ray Emission (PIGE) spectroscopy is a rapid non-destructive measurement that can be used when screening samples for further analysis - such as source zone delineation, or it can be used to look for the fate and transport of all PFAS in any potential remediation project. The ability to make dozens of measurements of total fluorine for the time and cost of one LC-MS/MS measurement allows both spatial and temporal granularity not typically available currently and it can also be used to optimize parameters for sequestration or destruction of PFAS, as long as the products can be measured. We have developed PIGE methods for total fluorine analysis in both solid and aqueous samples, as well as physical chemical methods to distinguish inorganic fluoride from PFAS. We have also designed a way to make PIGE field-deployable for rapid in situ site characterization, and are working towards commercialization of the technique to address high throughput sample analysis. A brief description of the technique and its advantages will be presented together with an assessment of its limitations compared to a traditional LC-MS/MS approach.