we help clients track and respond to emerging issues as these appear on the horizon

emerging issues

PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), or PFAS, are man-made chemicals used in the manufacture of Teflon®, breathable waterproof fabrics, carpet and textile coatings, treated food wrappers, wire coatings, aqueous fire-fighting foam, specialty dyes and paints, and other products.

The same properties that make PFAS durable and resistant also make them extremely persistent in the environment. Highly soluble in water, these chemicals do not degrade or bio-transform and do not precipitate or adhere to sediment. Even a small amount of PFAS can spread widely with groundwater flow and remain at detectable concentrations for years. Identifying a source can be difficult, and often there may be multiple sources.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that PFAS are suggestive of causing cancer in humans. In May 2016, the agency set a health advisory limit (HAL) of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for the combined PFOA and PFOS level in drinking water. Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services adopted using 70 ppt as the PFOA/PFOS limit in drinking water for decision making purposes. These levels are some of the lowest ever established for a contaminant. They represent a significant challenge for those who have used PFAS in manufacturing processes, who have used or are using firefighting foam, and who oversee water treatment and landfills because PFOA and PFOS have been found at low levels in many settings.

informed decisions require reliable data
When measuring concentrations in parts per trillion, data quality and data reliability are critical. Barr has developed sample-collection best practices to avoid water-sample-and-blank cross contamination—and we’ve reduced or eliminated detectable concentrations of PFOA and PFOS in field blanks for over 10 years. We also work with laboratories to help them reduce or eliminate method blank cross contamination that may occur during sample handling and analysis, enabling our clients to make informed decisions based on reliable data.

project examples 

oil and gas
oil and gas

industrial and manufacturing
municipal water and wastewater



At Barr, we work with clients and regulators to help develop a clear understanding of PFAS fate and transport and hone the scope of data-collection efforts to focus on providing accurate information and developing long-term solutions.


PFAS services

data quality support for PFAS

multimedia mass balance for PFAS

water treatment for PFAS

who to contact 

Ward Swanson
Ward Swanson, VP


Ray Woulo
Ray Woulo, VP
fate and transport


Tim Russell
Tim Russell, VP
stack testing and air modeling

Katie Wolohan
Katie Wolohan, PE
water treatment


Adam Jansen
Adam Janzen
groundwater modeling


Karma Hughes
Karma Hughes, VP
fire fighting foams