PFAS Analytical Methods Development and Sampling Research
On this page:
- Standard Analytical Methods
- Research Analytical Methods
- Other Federal Analytical Methods
- Data Analysis
- Laboratory Certification
- Non-Governmental Resources
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large class of synthetic chemicals that present numerous analytical challenges, including their widespread presence in a variety of environmental samples, occurrence of isomers for some compounds, and precursor transformations that may occur during preservation and storage of the samples. EPA’s methods for analyzing PFAS in environmental media are in various stages of development and validation.
EPA scientists are developing validated analytical methods for drinking water; groundwater; surface water; wastewater; and solids, including soils, sediments, biota, and biosolids, which may eventually become standard methods or research methods. Visit EPA's status of PFAS research and development webpage to get updates about this and other PFAS research.
For more information about EPA PFAS research, please visit EPA's webpage on PFAS Research and Development.
- Targeted Analysis: These analyses include methods that are applicable to a specific defined set of known analytes. Analytical standards exist for quantitation and methods only measure for analytes on the targeted list; once the analysis is complete, you can't look for other analytes.
- Non-Targeted Analysis: These analyses include methods that use high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) capable of identifying all known and unknown analytes in a sample. In order to identify unknown compounds, liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) analyses are applied and followed by quantification if an adequate standard exists. Otherwise, semi-quantitation may be possible based on known, structurally similar analytes. These methods can screen for lists of known suspects and can discover new or unknown analytes. HRMS data can be stored and analyzed later for newly identified analytes. Learn more about EPA's research on Non-Targeted Analysis.
Standard Analytical Methods
Standard methods are methods that have been through a laboratory validation process following a particular rulemaking or guidance effort and are available to support regulatory or guidance activities.
|Drinking (Potable) Water
EPA develops drinking water methods in support of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
Information on SDWA method development protocols
|Method 537.1: Determination of Selected PFAS in Drinking Water by SPE and LC/MS/MS (2018/2020)
EPA method for measuring 18 PFAS in drinking water, including HFPO-DA (one component of the GenX processing aid technology).
Note: Method 537.1 was updated in 2020 to version 2.0. The only updates were editorial and did not include any technical revisions.
|Method 537: Determination of Selected PFAS in Drinking Water by SPE and LC/MS/MS (2009 - listed for historical purposes)
EPA method for measuring 14 PFAS in drinking water.
Note: This is referenced for historical purposes only. Method 537 was updated in 2018 to Method 537.1 (above).
|Method 533: Determination of PFAS in Drinking Water by Isotope Dilution Anion Exchange SPE and LC/MS/MS (2019)
|EPA method for measuring 25 PFAS in drinking water.
|Non-Potable Water and Other Environmental Media
EPA develops methods for aqueous and solid (e.g., soil, biosolids, sediment) samples primarily through the Clean Water Act (CWA) and methods for solid waste (SW-846) under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
|Method 8327: PFAS Using External Standard Calibration and MRM LC/MS/MS (2019)
|EPA method for measuring 24 PFAS in non-drinking water aqueous (groundwater, surface water, and wastewater) samples.
EPA method for measuring 40 PFAS in wastewater, surface water, groundwater, soil, biosolids, sediment, landfill leachate, and fish tissue.
EPA and the Department of Defense collaborated on the development of this method.
|Source (Air) Emissions
There are diverse sources of emissions, including chemical manufacturers, commercial applications, and thermal treatment incineration processes. EPA is developing test methods for measuring PFAS source emissions.
A method for measuring 50 PFAS in air emissions from stationary sources. This method focuses on semivolatile and particulate-bound PFAS.
EPA intends for the scientific community to provide feedback on OTM-45. Scientists and stakeholders can learn more about the process for submitting feedback in the introduction text of the method document.
|Other Test Method (OTM)-50: Sampling and analysis of volatile fluorinated compounds from stationary sources using passivated stainless-steel canisters
A method for measuring 30 PFAS in air emissions from stationary sources. This method focuses on certain volatile PFAS.
EPA intends for the scientific community to provide feedback on OTM-50. Scientists and stakeholders can learn more about the process for submitting feedback in the introduction text of the method document.
Research Methods: Standard Operating Procedures
The following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were used to conduct the the research described in the associated publications. The SOPs listed are not official EPA methods and have not been validated. They were reviewed and approved internally by EPA to meet data quality objectives associated with specific research projects. EPA made these SOPs available as a reference for anyone interested in pursuing additional research, and/or modifying or implementing some of the procedures.
This section is still in development and will be coming soon.
Other Federal Analytical Methods (Non-EPA)
Other U.S. federal agencies have developed and published methods; more information is available on those agencies’ sites.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):
- Screening, Determination, and Confirmation of PFAS by UPLC-MS-MS
- Evaluation of Blood and Tissue PFAs Levels in Unintentionally Contaminated Dairy Animals
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS):
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD):
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
The following resources can be used as a starting point for identifying sampling protocols for PFAS in environmental media:
- PFAS Methods and Guidance for Sampling and Analyzing Water and Other Environmental Media (Technical Brief pdf)
- EPA Methods 533 and 537.1 (includes sampling protocols)
- Interstate Technology Regulatory Council (ITRC) Sampling and Analytical Methods
- Michigan Department of Environmental Quality General PFAS Sampling Guidance
- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection PFNA/PFAS Sampling Information for Water Systems
- New York Department of Environmental Conservation Guidelines for Sampling and Analysis of PFAS
- North East Biosolids and Residuals Association (NEBRA) Sampling and Analysis of PFAS in Biosolids and Associated Media
- Reviewing PFAS Analytical Methods Data for Environmental Samples (Technical Brief pdf)
- Data Review and Validation Guidelines for PFAS Analyzed Using EPA Method 537
Other laboratories provide access to obtain standards and reference materials.
- American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
- Cambridge Isotope Laboratories, Inc.
- International Organization for Standardization
- Standard Reference Materials (SRM)-National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)