Annegret Biegel-Engler: Per- and polyfluorinated chemicals in the environment

Published:  10 November, 2009

Per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are widely used in fire fighting foams. PFCs are synthetic compounds which can be degraded or mineralized hardly at all. Once they are dispersed within the environment, these chemicals persist for a very long time. PFCs have been found ubiquitously in the environment, e.g., in arctic animals, in the deep sea, in rivers, and drinking water. The persistence in human blood and breast milk after uptake via nutrition, in contaminated drinking water or air, is of especially high concern.

The environmental dispersion of PFCs depends on their physico-chemical properties.Those chemicals which are adsorbed by organic matter will become enriched in sewage sludge or soil.Water-soluble PFCs, however, will enter surface water and become dispersed in the oceans, eventually being transported via water currents to remote areas.

Those PFCs with high soil mobility will enter groundwater easily or be washed out into surface water, possibly contaminating drinking water. The German Federal Environment Agency therefore requires that AFFF and other fire fighting foams containing PFCs only be used when absolutely necessary.Furthermore, industry is being strongly encouraged to develop PFC-free fire fighting foams as soon as possible.

About the speaker

Dr. Annegret Biegel studied biochemistry at the Martin-Luther Univerisity of Halle-Wittenberg in Halle, Germany, first as an undergraduate (1996-2202) and then as a doctoral student (2002-2006) gaining her PhD in 2006. Annegret was then employed as a Scientific Officer responsible for the biological remediation of contaminated sites at the Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus. In 2008 she joined the German Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) in Dessau as a Scientific Officer in the division charged with chemical and biological safety.

  • Operation Florian

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

Williams Fire & Hazard Control offers a full line of specialized fire response equipment for oil and gas platforms

From storage tanks and pipeline emergencies to offshore platforms and vessels at sea, Williams' response personnel and specialized equipment quickly address adverse fire emergencies.

Trust the best, let us be your foam solution

AUXQUIMIA is a Spanish company whose main activity is the design, manufacture and commercialization of firefighting foam concentrates.

Foam fights fire

Europe’s foremost fire fighting foam manufacturer has been developing and producing foams since the 1920s.

Optical flame and open path gas detectors

Spectrex Inc. is a world leader in optical flame and combustible gas detection with over 30 years experience.

Revolutionizing fire fighting foam technology

The one-stop resource for fire fighting foam concentrates and custom-designed foam suppression systems hardware.

The leader in truck-mounted hydraulic platforms

Our mission is to provide the best and the safest solution to professionals that work at height.

The independent alternative

Dafo Fomtec AB is a privately owned company with head office in Stockholm Sweden and manufacturing in Helsingborg in the south of Sweden.

If you want quality, you want Zico

Since its inception Ziamatic Corp has provided the men and women of the fire service with products designed to make their jobs safer and easier.

The ultimate in innovation, quality and service

For 60 years Lehavot has been delivering the world’s most advanced fire detection and suppression automatic systems

Calendar