Developing the first global PFAS fate and transport model

Polar bear eating fish in the Arctic

Polar bear eating fish in the Arctic


Steve Washburn

Steve Washburn

Senior Advisor
T: +1 (510) 655 7400

Michael Keinath

T: +1 415 796 1934

Long-distance transport of chemicals

Over the past 20 years, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS ) have been detected in human blood, wildlife and a wide range of environmental media around the world. As a part of its on-going product stewardship program, our client wanted to understand the possible sources of the PFAS that have been detected. 

The client retained Ramboll to construct a model capable of predicting the reaction of PFAS precursors in the atmosphere during transport over distances of hundreds of kilometers, and then evaluating uptake through the food chain. This model included transport from locations in the Americas and Asia to evaluate potential exposures across North America – even for polar bears in the Arctic, to help answer questions about potential sources of PFAS that had been reported in the polar bear liver.

Environmental and human health exposure assessment 

Ramboll estimated concentrations of PFAS in various environmental media including air, soil, surface water, groundwater, produce, livestock and fish, and associated exposures both for populations living near potential sources, and thousands of kilometres away. To support this evaluation, Ramboll developed the first global environmental and human health exposure assessment for PFAS, including the atmospheric and oceanic transport of perfluorinated compounds from North American sources to the Canadian Arctic. 

Focus on solutions

Ramboll’s evaluation assisted in identifying the primary pathways for the global transport of PFAS, helping to address questions about the most likely sources of PFAS detected in human blood and the environment. 

Ramboll’s work was reviewed by a panel of independent experts in the area of exposure and risk assessment, and summarized in two articles, one on atmospheric transport and the other on food chain modelling, co-authored with client scientists and published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology. 

Results that matter

Ramboll’s evaluation supported the client’s efforts to advance the science of PFAS transport and better understand it’s relative contribution to PFAS detected in the environment.   


First Floor, Emerald Building
Oud Metha Road
PO Box 116921, Dubai, UAE
Tel:+971 4 334 3616
Fax:+971 4 334 3617


Other sites

Other sites