Lisa D'Agostino
Hometown: Medicine Hat, Ab

Investigating Fluorinated surfactants in AFFF
  • PhD 2011-Present
  • MSc 2010 (McMaster University)
  • BSc 2008 (University of Alberta)

Fluorinated polymers and surfactants have been used in commercial and industrial products such as coatings for paper, carpets, and textiles, as adhesives, cosmetics and as parts of fire fighting foams for many years. Studies have shown that perfluorinated acids, such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluoro octanoic acid (PFOA), are globally widespread in wildlife, humans, air particulates, lake water, etc. PFOS-based fluorinated chemicals have been used in aqueous fire fighting foams (AFFF) to extinguish hydrocarbon-fuel fires.

After the phase-out of PFOS production in 2001, the manufacturing industry has shifted its production to telomer-based fluorinated sulfonates for AFFFs. Only limited information regarding the composition of these foams exists in the literature. In my research project, I will analyze commercial fire fighting foams, which are used by fire departments, the military, and oil refineries, and determine the structure of the fluorinated compounds within. We are furthermore interested in the fate of these components in groundwater and soil once they are spilled into the environment.