PFAS are widely used manmade chemicals, now omnipresent in the environment and water sources, posing severe health risks to humans and other organisms. They are linked to thyroid disease, reproductive abnormalities, several types of cancer, and have been flagged by the European Commission as impairing immune-responses to vaccines, posing a significant concern when considering the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. PFAS exposure-related health costs in the EEA are estimated to reach €84 billion per year. The term PFAS covers over 9,000 synthetic chemicals.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has proposed banning the use of PFAS in firefighting foams in Europe.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has proposed banning the use of PFAS in firefighting foams in Europe.

Available Sensor Technologies

Sensor systems can provide a powerful alternative to conventional analytical techniques (HPLC-MS/MS or GC-MS) for the detection of various groups of PFAS compounds. Electrochemical sensors combine high analytical selectivity and sensitivity with low cost and a short analysis time, and thus enable decentralised or automated analysis. An effective way to introduce specific chemical selectivity is by means of Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIPs). MIP materials have attracted significant attention, not only because of their high affinity and selectivity for the target analyte, but also because they are characterised by high thermal and chemical stability, low cost, ease of preparation, high durability and reusability. The powerful combination of MIPs and state-of-the-art electroanalytical methodologies has led to the development of an electrochemical sensor for trace analysis of perfluoro-octane sulfonate (PFOS) in water which can analyse PFOS with a detection limit of 0.04 nM, below the health advisory limit of 0.14 nM as reported by the US EPA.

An overview of sensor technologies available for online, real-time PFAS-detection has been published in Rodriguez et al. (2020).


PFAS in water are a serious problem for the water industry. In this webinar we tell you more about the development of a PFAS sensor and how PFAS can effectively be removed from water.

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Interested in finding out what PFAS is and how we can detect them in water? Listen to our podcast with Najmeh Karimian, researcher at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice. 

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Further Reading

Want to dive in deeper? We recommend the following publications:

  • Cennamo, N., G. D'Agostino, F. Sequeira, F. Mattiello, G. Porto, A. Biasiolo, R. Nogueira, L. Bilro, and L. Zeni. 2018. A Simple and Low-Cost Optical Fiber Intensity-Based Configuration for Perfluorinated Compounds in Water Solution, Sensors, 18(9): 3009-19.
  • Karimian, N., A. M. Stortini, L. M. Moretto, C. Costantino, S. Bogialli, and P. Ugo. 2018. Electrochemosensor for Trace Analysis of Perfluorooctanesulfonate in Water Based on a Molecularly Imprinted Poly( o-phenylenediamine) Polymer, ACS Sens, 3: 1291-98.
  • Rodriguez, K.L., J.H. Hwang, A.R. Esfahani, A. Sadmani, and W.H. Lee. 2020. Recent Developments of PFAS-Detecting Sensors and Future Direction: A Review. Micromachines, 11(7): 667.