PFAS in soils workshop – behaviour, fate, risks and remediation

Convened by Soil Science Australia’s Certified Practising Soil Scientist (CPSS) scheme

Date: Wednesday 21 November 2018

Venue: Park Hyatt Canberra

Cost: Conference delegates: $100 inc GST / Non-delegates: $295 inc GST


(If you would like to attend the full National Soils Conference, including the PFAS Workshop, please CLICK HERE)

Adapted from Li et al. 2018

Soil contamination by poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) is a serious issue worldwide, and Australia is taking an active role in leading the emerging science on assessment and remediation of these compounds in soils. The knowledge about fate and behaviour of PFASs in the soil environment is currently inadequate but is rapidly growing. This workshop aims to bring national and international experts in the analysis of PFAS, assessment of soil contamination and remediation of PFAS-contaminated soils in order to bring together the latest knowledge and understanding on this topic. 


0915-0950 Registration/tea/coffee

0950-1000 Prof. Mike McLaughlin (CPSS) – Welcome and introduction

1000-1045 Prof. Chris Higgins, Colorado School of Mines, Boulder, CO, USA “PFAS chemicals in soils – assessment and fate”

1045-1115 Dr Daniel Slee, Australia’s National Measurement Institute, Sydney, Australia “Measurement of PFAS in soil, an analytical and quality perspective”

1115-1145 Mr Andrew Mitchell, Australian Department of Defence, Canberra, Australia “Is ASLP the right test to use to assess the propensity of a soil to generate PFAS leachate?”

1145-1215 Dr Rai Kookana, CSIRO Land and Water/ University of Adelaide, Australia “Predicting sorption and mobility of PFASs in soils.”

1215-1245 Assoc. Prof. Jinxia Liu, McGill University, Canada.  “What we know and do not know about the transformation of PFAS precursors in microbial systems“

1245-1345 Lunch break/networking

1345-1415 Prof. Jochen Muller, University of Queensland, Australia “PFAS-properties and how they affect bioaccumulation from soil and remediation efforts“

1415-1445 Dr Rachel Casson, AECOM, Sydney, Australia “Transformation of PFAS Precursors in Soils at an Australian Air Force Base”

1445-1515 Mr Andrew Thomas, Enviropacific, Brisbane “Clean-up of PFAS chemicals in soil: influence of PFAS and soil properties on remediation efforts”

1515-1600 General Discussion/Close

1600 Networking Drinks 

CLICK HERE to download the workshop flyer as a PDF to print.

Workshop Presenters

Prof. Chris Higgins, Colorado School of Mines, Boulder, CO

Christopher P. Higgins is an environmental chemist at the Colorado School of Mines (Mines). Dr. Higgins’ received his A.B. in Chemistry from Harvard University, and graduate degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. He joined faculty at the Mines in 2009, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014.  His research focuses on the movement of contaminants in the environment. In particular, he studies chemical fate and transport in natural and engineered systems as well as bioaccumulation in plants and animals, with a focus on poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances. Dr. Higgins has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications to date, and he has been an invited speaker at many national and international conferences. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP).

Mr Daniel Slee, Manager – Organics, National Measurement Institute, Sydney, Australia

Danny Slee has a BSc (Hons) from the University of Queensland with over 20 years’ experience in commercial and government analytical laboratories.   Most of Danny’s career has focussed on the analysis of environmental samples for trace organic pollutants for a number of environmental consultancies and government entities.  Danny has experience with a wide range of tests in soils, waters, oils and air samples.  Tests include petroleum hydrocarbons, PAHs, phenols, pesticides, volatiles, herbicides and PFAS in soil and water samples.  Danny has a particular skill with mass spectrometry with experience in the maintenance and operation of LC/MS/MS, GC/MS & GC/MS/MS equipment.    Danny is currently the head of the Organics section at the National Measurement Institute at North Ryde which is a NATA accredited facility for environmental tests including PFAS.

Mr Andrew Mitchell, Project Director – Technical PolicyPFAS Investigation & Management Branch, Infrastructure Division, Department of Defence

Andrew is an executive environmental management professional with over 20 years’ experience in regulation, policy, emergency management, pollution incidents and site contamination. Andrew’s roles have included regulating contaminated sites and funding the clean-up of derelict sites, developing policy and preventative approaches for contamination, leading the environmental response to incidents and emergencies in NSW and advising the Department of Defence on its PFAS investigation and management program. Andrew holds tertiary qualifications in environmental engineering and public administration.

Dr Rai Kookana, CSIRO Land and Water, Australia

Dr Rai Kookana is a Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO and an Honorary Professor with University of Adelaide. Since his PhD from the University of Western Australia (1989), he has been researching on environmental fate and effects of organic contaminant in the environment. Dr Kookana’s current research interests include environmental fate and ecological risks of emerging contaminants (e.g. Per- and Poly-fluoro Alkyl Substances – PFASs, hydraulic fracking chemicals, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, and nanomaterials) in the aquatic and terrestrial environments. He has published >200 journal papers, with an H-Index (ISI) of 44 and a total citation > 7000. He is also on the editorial boards of 4 international journals and has served as Science Fellow of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). In 2012, Dr Kookana was elected Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America. In 2016, he was awarded the prestigious Prescott Medal by Soil Science Australia.

Assoc. Prof. Jinxia Liu, McGill University, Canada

Dr. Jinxia Liu received her Bachelor of Engineering from Tianjin University (China), and Ph.D. in soil chemistry from Purdue University (USA). She was a Research Analyst at DuPont USA and participated in the safety assessment of short-chain fluorotelomer products.  Dr. Liu also worked as a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences and was instrumental in establishing a mass spectrometry center for the environmental research in emerging organic pollutants. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at McGill University, Canada, and a Chwang-Seto Faculty Scholar. Dr. Liu focuses her work on environmental fate, behavior, and bioavailability of emerging organic contaminants, particularly per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). She is also developing novel materials and treatment processes to remove PFASs from contaminated water and soil.

Prof. Jochen Muller, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Jochen works since 1997 at the University of Queensland’s and leads a team that research innovative tools for monitoring exposure to chemicals including PFAS. He has started of his research in the early 90s on investigating mobilisation and transfer of persistent organic pollutants from soils into plants at the University of Hohenheim.  Although his research diversified and moved away from soils to human exposure more general he kept a research interest in soil science.   His teams work on PFAS uptake from soil thus takes him back to the roots.

Dr Rachael Casson, AECOM, Sydney, Australia

Rachael is Director of AECOM’s International PFAS Program, she has over 20 years of industry experience as an environmental consultant, and for the last nine years has focused on assessing PFAS fate and transport, risks, management and treatment/ remedial options. She has provided technical guidance for over 100 domestic and global PFAS related projects and opportunities, including performing the role of Lead PFAS Technical Specialist on two of the Australian Department of Defence’s highest profile PFAS investigations, the Army Aviation Centre, Oakey  and RAAF Base Williamtown.  Rachael is also a member of a multi-disciplinary team that recently constructed  a field demonstration Electrical Chemical Oxidation reactor to demineralize PFAS in solution.  She has also directed research projects evaluating PFAS uptake by plants, PFAS precursor transformation at an Australian Air Base and bench and field scale trials of mobile treatment plant to treat PFAS impacted wastewater.

Mr Andrew Thomas, Enviropacific, Brisbane, Australia

Andrew is an energetic and pragmatic Chartered Engineer possessing over 22 years’ experience across a wide range of remediation engineering projects in Australia, USA and Saudi Arabia. He is the National PFAS Technical Manager for Enviropacific leading the research, development and subsequent implementation of remediation solutions for PFAS impacted soils, sludges and water. Andrew prides himself on providing the most effective and practical remediation solutions for clients.

With thanks to the following organisations for their support or this workshop