Department of Environmental Engineering Seminar

Department of Environmental Engineering


Fingerprinting, Source Tracking, and Allocation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs)


Dr. Hamidreza Sharifan

Colorado State University

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Wednesnday, January 20, 2021, 10:00

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Team Code: ws2yjy5



The widespread application of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) for regular firefighting training has created an environmental legacy for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) continue to cause sustained groundwater plume development. However, PFASs have been widely used in industrial and consumer products due to their heat, oil and water resistance. PFASs leaching from landfills, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), and other sources may lead to co-located plume development. Here, groundwater samples from DoD sites and residential areas around the military sites with potential various PFAS sources were collected. The ultrahigh-resolution Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) was applied to identify marker compounds at the molecular level for AFFF “fingerprinting” and PFAS source allocation. Samples were extracted and analyzed on the world’s highest-performing mass spectrometer at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. A computational code was developed to assign elemental compositions for fluorinated compounds. Statistical metrics and data reduction techniques have been used to “fingerprint” AFFF and identify product-specific marker compounds. Molecular signatures will then be compared to groundwater samples for source tracking and allocation. Our mass spectral library for PFASs identified compounds at the level of elemental composition assignment and will provide critical guidance to DoD remedial program managers to understand the extent of PFAS contamination, and ultimately to determine the potential liability associated with past releases.


Dr. Hamidreza Sharifan is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Colorado State University. He has been working on different environmental projects in Germany and the USA. His Ph.D. studies at Texas A&M University was centered around the environmental fate of nanoparticle and their interaction with plants. During his academic career, he has supervised many undergraduate and graduate students. Currently, he is serving the editorial board of Journal of Data in Brief.