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FAQ: PFAS in laboratory testing

A scientist in a lab wearing blue gloves holding a pipette and a test tube

FAQ: PFAS in laboratory testing

PFAS sampling is different from other types of sampling because PFAS are present in many things we use in our everyday life, such as water-resistant and stain-resistant products. PFAS compounds are detected in very small quantities (parts per trillion). 

To put this in context, 1 part per trillion is equivalent to a single drop of water in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools combined.  Even the smallest cross-contamination could contribute to a false positive sample. 

  • A list of laboratories certified to perform EPA method 537.1 for PFAS in drinking water can be found on the Laboratories Offering Home Testing page. This list is kept current as additional laboratories become certified.

    Contact the laboratory for the most accurate information on which testing they are able to provide.

  • Yes. On October 1, 2019, EGLE's Drinking Water Laboratory started testing for PFAS in drinking water, including samples from residents. Information can be found on the Laboratories Offering Home Testing page.

  • Testing costs vary from laboratory to laboratory and may typically run $300 or more per sample. Contact the laboratory for the most accurate estimate of testing costs.

  • Sample containers for PFAS testing should always be obtained from the laboratory that will be performing the analysis on your sample(s) to ensure they meet testing specifications and rigorous quality control requirements. The laboratory may also provide additional materials, such as gloves or labels, that will be need for testing. Contact the laboratory to find out what materials they provide and if you will need to obtain any other materials on your own (such as gloves).

  • Methods used to test for PFAS vary depending on the type of sample you would like to have tested. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) published EPA Method 537, a method for testing drinking water only, and has been in use since 2009.

    The USEPA released an updated version of this drinking water method, EPA Method 537.1 version 2.0, which includes 4 more PFAS than in the original method. Michigan is using Method 537.1 to analyze drinking water samples. 

    For other sample types including groundwater, surface water, or wastewater, laboratories are using methods such as ASTM-D7979 or other laboratory developed methods. The USEPA is currently developing additional test methods for publication in other sample types.

  • Look for a laboratory that has a quality assurance program plan or quality management plan in place and can provide the testing service that meets your project's data quality objectives.

    Look for a laboratory that holds certification for PFAS analysis through the State of Michigan's Drinking Water Laboratory Certification Program, USEPA drinking water certification for analyses regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act or other accreditations to standards such as TNI 2016, ISO 17025 or Department of Defense Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (DoD ELAP) and participates in an annual performance sample testing program.

  • Ask the laboratory about any certifications or accreditations it may hold, the cost of testing and the expected turnaround time for results, what sample collection containers are needed, and any specific sample collection procedures or instructions to follow when collecting a sample.

    Also ask the laboratory what testing method(s) it uses and the reporting limit(s) it tests down to before reporting a "Not Detected" result. Under Michigan's Safe Drinking Water Act, laboratories certified by the State of Michigan must be able to report PFAS results down to 2 ng/L (PPT).

  • MPART has created an interactive mapping tool that allows you to view several types of PFAS results near a location of your choosing.

    After launching the app, use the search bar in the top left to find the area you're interested in.