Perflourinated compounds (PFCs) are man-made and contain long, fully fluorinated carbon chains with different functional head groups. PFCs are used in products to resist grease, oil, stains and water. They are also used in fire-fighting foams and appear in products which have water and soil repellent properties. Speciality fire-fighting applications have included Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFF) and Alcohol-Type Concentrate (ATC) that were used to extinguish Class B fires that involve flammable fuels.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are the most researched of the PFC substances, but recent studies have identified at least thirteen other related chemicals that are largely un-researched. The carbon-fluorine bond of these chemicals is incredibly strong, which makes it resist breakdown and causes PFCs to build up in the food chain. Once PFCs are released into the environment they remain there indefinitely and are not believed to undergo metabolic or other degradation in the environment.
According to the US EPA, PFCs have become concentrated in humans and other animals due to their presence in the environment as well as exposure from food and consumer products. The Stockholm Convention is an international environmental treaty that aims to eradicate some of the most toxic chemicals known to mankind. In 2009, nine additional POPs were listed under the Stockholm Convention, including PFOS and PFOA. Australia is a signatory to the convention and is bound to assessing the risks of PFCs and is conducting research into the presence of PFCs in human and ecological populations.
Toxfree has a state-of-the-art “hazardous chemical” destruction technology developed by CSIRO called PLASCON®. The PLASCON® process produces a high temperature plasma arc by ionizing argon gas in a 150 kW DC discharge between a separate cathode and anode. A mixture of waste and oxygen is injected radially into the plasma at a specially designed injection manifold. This process is known as pyrolysis. Unlike incineration, dioxin formation is avoided by the use of pyrolising conditions and rapid quenching. PLASCON® can achieve Destruction Efficiencies (DE) in excess of 99.999999%. PLASCON® waste destruction eliminates a wide variety of concentrated organic waste types listed on the Stockholm Convention. This included PFCs, PCBs and pesticides such as 2,4-D, DDT, DDE, Dieldrin, Aldrin, Lindane, Malathion, Heptachlor, Ethion, 2,4,5-T, Carbaryl, Dichlorovos, Chlorpyrifos.
Thermal Desorption is a “physical separation process” where heat is used to desorb (evaporate) moisture and contaminants from solids. Evaporated contaminants are either converted (generally to Carbon Dioxide and Water) or condensed and collected. The temperature in the Thermal Desorber vessel is increased above the boiling point of the organic compound to be removed. Samples of the treated waste are analysed to verify complete decontamination prior to reuse, recycling or disposal. Toxfree operates an In-direct Heated Thermal Desorption (ITD) – a dual shell process with a condensation unit for small oil volumes and specialist removal of organic contaminants from solid material i.e. PFCs from soil.
Toxfree is one of Australia’s leading integrated waste management and industrial service providers. Our core values, “Safe, Reliable and Sustainable”, underpin our commitment to offer our customers the safest, most reliable and sustainable waste management solution we can.
Call us today on 1300 toxfree.