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Jacobs Shares PFAS Assessment, Treatment and Remediation Solutions on Investor Teleconference

Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a large family of toxic organic compounds, including more than 3,000 manufactured fluorinated organic chemicals used since the 1940s.

Jacobs Chief Operating Officer and Buildings, Infrastructure and Advanced Facilities President Bob Pragada, Principal Hydrogeologist and Global Emerging Contaminants Leader Bill DiGuiseppi and Buildings, Infrastructure and Advanced Facilities Global Environmental Solutions Senior Vice President and General Manager Jan Walstrom spoke with the investor community on August 26, 2019, on the topic of PFAS: A View On Assessment, Treatment, & Remediation From Jacobs (JEC).

The teleconference was hosted by Barclays, a British multinational investment bank and financial services company, which has recently published Equity Research papers on the PFAS topic.

Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a large family of toxic organic compounds, including more than 3,000 manufactured fluorinated organic chemicals used since the 1940s. PFAS have unique surfactant properties that make them repel water and oil.

They can be found in food packaging; commercial household products like stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon™ pots and pans), polishes, waxes, paints and cleaning products; and in aqueous filmforming foams (AFFF) – a major source of groundwater contamination at airports, military bases, chemical facilities, fuel storage areas and facilities where firefighting training occurs.

PFAS are resistant to degradation, are chemically and biologically persistent, highly soluble and mobile in the environment. This leads to environmental accumulation of these substances in groundwater, drinking water sources and wastewater treatment plant effluent, which can lead to exposure in humans and biota, with resulting adverse health outcomes. 

Addressing this public health and liability issue is a growing concern for national, state and municipal governments, as well as the private sector companies that manufacture and utilize these organic compounds.

Speaking to the investor community, Jacobs, a global leader in environmental services, framed the public, regulatory and scientific aspects of the PFAS challenge, as well as current and developing water treatment and soil remediation applications, including innovative green technology solutions where we're actively engaged in research and development. 

  • For more than a decade, the subgrade biogeochemical reactor (SBGR) technology developed by Jacobs has been used for sustainable and effective treatment of trichloroethene (TCE) and other chlorinated solvents in soil and groundwater, and more recently for petroleum constituents, hexavalent chromium or dissolved explosive constituents. Working with academic researchers, Jacobs is taking the lessons learned from SBGRs to lead an evolution of the bioremediation industry – developing new treatment methods for recalcitrant emerging contaminants, such as 1,4-dioxane and PFAS, that are opening doors to unique biology-based remediation approaches to sustainably accelerate cleanup at some of the most difficult hazardous waste sites.
  • In collaboration with the Iron Creek Group’s VP of Operations Roger Richter and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District’s Project Geologist Michael Riggle, Jacobs published results in the January-February 2019 Environmental Engineering edition of The Military Engineer from multiple bench-scale tests demonstrating that low temperature thermal desorption (LTTD) is a viable option for treatment of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in soil associated with AFFF impacts.
  • With 2019 funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), Jacobs is working to advance the science in PFAS characterization and remediation:
    • Assessing and Mitigating Bias in PFAS Levels during Ground and Surface Water Sampling; SERDP Project ER19-1205. Jacobs is collaborating with Dr. Jennifer Field, Oregon State University, the world’s leading PFAS analytical chemist, to evaluate problems due to sampling materials and procedures on PFAS analytical results.
    • Rapid Site Profiling of Organofluorine: Quantification of PFASs by Combustion Gas Analysis; SERDP Project ER19-1214. Collaboration with Dr. David Hanigan, University of Nevada-Reno, to develop a portable, automated, total organofluorine instrument to reduce cost and time required for PFAS field characterization.
    • Remediation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Contaminated Groundwater Using Cationic Hydrophobic Polymers as Ultra-High Affinity Sorbents; SERDP Project ER18-1052. Working with Dr. Reyes Sierra-Alvarez, University of Arizona, to develop and validate a more effective and lower cost adsorptive resin for the treatment of PFAS in groundwater. 

“The PFAS science is truly interdisciplinary,” said Jan Walstrom.  “For Jacobs, this involves our environmental, water, wastewater, solid waste, aviation and infrastructure experts across multiple lines of business applying deep expertise from key disciplines and service areas including chemistry, geology, hydrogeology, big data analytics, site characterization, engineering and design, remediation and long-term monitoring.”

Visit the Investors section of jacobs.com to review the PFAS presentation and call transcript – and explore our full suite of environmental solutions here.  

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