Exploring the PFAS-Landfill Connection

“Landfills make toxic liquid hazardous to drinking water” said The Guardian in a recent article, which covered the “forever chemicals” Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These chemicals are resistant to degradation, and the Guardian berated the Environment Agency for not knowing which landfills contained them.

That landfills contain hazardous leachate is nothing new, and that is why modern facilities have complex engineered lining systems to manage risk to the environment. While PFAS are currently first and foremost among the emerging chemicals of concern to the environment industry, the fact that they are present in leachate is not a surprise.

The Guardian was reporting on research designed to define the general distribution and typical concentrations of these chemicals, to help the Environment Agency to develop its ideas on how to manage them. It does not of course mean that the landfills from which samples were taken were allowing the chemicals to leach into drinking water. Nevertheless, the Environment Agency is right to be concerned about the potential for breaches of landfill containment that might allow PFAS to escape. Due to the environmental persistence and toxicity of PFAS, there is also justified concern about the potential for PFAS to leak at low concentrations through landfill lining systems.

A more nuanced review than produced by the Guardian was provided by Envirotec Magazine last year and research on these issues continues.

Our consultancy team has extensive experience in supporting the landfill sector, providing the following environmental landfill services:

  • HRA and HRA review
  • Support to permitting
  • Advice on monitoring plans and arrangements
  • Sampling programmes and borehole design
  • Groundwater modelling
  • LandSim and RAM risk assessment modelling
  • Data handling and reporting
  • Review of site performance
  • Expert witness

Contact the HFCL team for more information on how we can help with your landfill needs.


H Fraser Consulting Ltd
The Pump House
Coton Hill

01743 352797


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