Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type



Chemistry and Biochemistry

Director of Thesis

Dr. Susan Richardson

First Reader

Alexandria Forster

Second Reader

Alexandria Forster


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals used in consumer products for their unique chemical properties. PFAS compounds are resistant to water, oil, heat, and grease, making them useful for a wide variety of everyday items such as non-stick cooking pans, food packaging, electronics, carpets, upholstery, paints, adhesives, and personal care products.1 The resilient nature of PFAS has made these compounds immensely popular with consumers but has since been considered a potential environmental and public health hazard for their ability to bioaccumulate and for their stability in the environment. More than 6000 PFAS have been discovered in the environment to date, but this number continues to grow.2 We collected surface waters from 37 locations across the State of South Carolina and applied a new Total Organic Fluorine (TOF) method created in our lab to capture all PFAS compounds. This method combines the extraction technique Extractable Organic Fluorine (EOF) and Combustion Ion Chromatography (CIC) to measure PFAS hotspots.3 Results show that 36 of these samples contain TOF levels remarkably higher than U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposed regulatory limits of 4 parts-per-trillion for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and 4 parts-per-trillion for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).4

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© 2023, Thomas C Geiger