Emerging Contaminants Summit

Spring 2020

olsonMitchell Olson
Environmental Engineer

Dr. Mitchell Olson holds a BS degree in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota Duluth and MS and PhD degrees in environmental engineering from Colorado State University (CSU).  He worked at CSU in Dr. Tom Sale’s research group as a Research Associate/Scientist from 2005 to 2015.  His research at CSU focused on transport and degradation processes for organic contaminants, including hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents, and persistent organic contaminants (e.g., PCBs).  A primary research focus area involved remediation of chlorinated solvent source zones via soil mixing with zero valent iron and bentonite.  In 2015 he began working with Trihydro as an Environmental Engineer.  Within Trihydro, Dr. Olson is providing technical input on a variety of projects involving hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents, and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  He has recently participated in a National Groundwater Association PFAS document and is currently involved in the ITRC PFAS team.  Dr. Olson currently holds an Affiliate Faculty position in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at CSU and is a registered Professional Engineer in Colorado and Nebraska. 



Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice

The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) has published a State of Knowledge and Practice document for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in groundwater.  The 36 contributing members of the NGWA team included volunteers with a diverse background including environmental science, engineering, geology, and law.  The final document, which is titled "PFAS and Groundwater: State of Knowledge and Practice" is now available on the NGWA website. 

The purpose of the State of Knowledge and Practice document is to assist NGWA members and other groundwater professionals who may be tasked with investigating PFAS in groundwater and surface water; assessing risks to receptors; managing subsurface PFAS contamination; or performing risk communication and engagement with impacted stakeholders. The document provides a detailed description of the current state of knowledge and practice regarding PFAS site management including current technologies, methods, and field procedures.

To achieve these goals, the guidance document comprises the following eight sections: 

  • Section 1: Overview - presents an overview of the challenges associated with PFAS in the environment.
  • Section 2: Glossary - includes terms and acronyms specific to PFAS.
  • Section 3: Human and Ecological Impacts - discusses the physical and chemical properties of PFAS that are relevant to human and ecological impacts, and the current state of knowledge regarding exposure to receptors and the toxicological effects.
  • Section 4: Fate and Transport - discusses the environmental fate and transport of PFAS as a class of compounds, and compares their fate and transport characteristics to other classes of chemical compounds commonly found in groundwater.
  • Section 5: Field Sampling Analysis - discusses the collection and analysis of samples for PFAS, with an emphasis on water samples. Field screening methods are discussed, as well as considerations for sampling equipment, sample containers, and collection methods.
  • Section 6: Legal and Regulatory Issues - focuses on the current status of PFAS regulation in the United States. This section also provides information on the potential liability for water systems and an overview of legal theories and case law.
  • Section 7: Risk Communication - discusses methods for understanding the demographics and effectively communicating scientifically valid perceptions of risk to all subpopulations.
  • Section 8: Remediation and Treatment - provides technical information to support decisions about treating PFAS-impacted water. This section includes key information to support proper selection, design, construction, and maintenance of a PFAS remediation system.

Each section was prepared by a subgroup of contributors, reviewed internally, and posted for public commentary.  This thorough review process was conducted to ensure accuracy and relevancy of information provided.  The final document is a collaborative effort, intended for informational purposes.


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