Ecosens AG processes PFAS contaminated sites

Ecosens AG processes PFAS contaminated sites - investigation and remediation of suspected sites with the emerging pollutant group PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl compounds)

The substances in the PFAS substance group (perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl compounds) are chemically, biologically and thermally very stable due to their structure and have the property of being both water and grease repellent. According to current knowledge, the substance group comprises several thousand different individual substances. They have been used extensively on an industrial scale since the early 1970s. PFAS are used in various sectors, such as the electroplating industry, the paper and packaging industry and the textile industry. They were also used extensively in extinguishing foams and can therefore be found on fire training grounds, for example.

Although the properties of PFAS for product functions are very advantageous, the substances are all the more problematic when they are released into the environment. In recent years, various studies in Germany and abroad have shown that PFAS have harmful effects on humans and the environment. The chemicals are difficult to break down, accumulate in the food chain and can have a toxic effect. The use of PFAS and the resulting contamination in the subsoil of a site can therefore pose a risk to protected resources (e.g. groundwater).

The environmental authorities in Switzerland have now also begun to address the issue of PFAS as part of the management of contaminated sites. For example, the AWEL Canton of Zurich launched a pilot study in 2021, in which various suspected operations and suspected sites were included. In this context, Ecosens AG is working on several sites where the PFAS issue needs to be addressed. This also includes ongoing remediation and construction projects in which expertise has been built up and experience gained.

Our services

  • Comprehensive technical and legal advice to the client throughout all project phases on the subject of PFAS, including identification of processes and possible risks. Phase-by-phase adjustment of cost estimates.
  • Preparation of approvable specifications for investigations, coordinated with ongoing activities at the site (operations, construction projects).
  • Carrying out technical investigation and evaluation including reporting, even under tight time constraints.
  • Evaluation of the results, comparison with literature, derivation of concentration values and solids limit values, definition of remediation perimeter and remediation target.
  • Correspondence with authorities as a representative of the client, presentations and meetings if necessary.
  • Development of a PFAS implementation and disposal concept, possibly as an integral part of already approved renovations or construction projects.
  • Technical site management PFAS remediation incl. monitoring of groundwater and site water as well as success control.



  • Enforcement in connection with PFAS is not yet standardized throughout Switzerland and there are only a few reference objects.
  • Cantonal offices are dependent on assessments and directives from the FOEN, which prolongs and complicates processes, especially as no national directives have yet been issued.
  • Due to the novelty of the topic of PFAS in enforcement, there can be great time pressure in the clarifications in the context of imminent or ongoing construction projects.
  • Treatment and recycling of PFAS-contaminated materials are under development and are currently correspondingly expensive. Careful triage on the construction site is therefore very important.

Our solutions in detail

  • Transparent communication with customers and authorities and the most forward-looking approach possible.
  • Close exchange with the authorities (FOEN, cantonal environmental offices) in order to speed up processes as far as possible and to always be up to date with the latest implementation.
  • Critical review of environmental agency rulings in connection with PFAS and comparison with reference objects.
  • Procurement and study of existing literature with a focus on Europe and Switzerland, including studies from the USA and elsewhere.
  • Close contact and exchange with laboratories and disposal companies to gain knowledge of techniques and ongoing progress.


Further information, literature and articles on PFAS can be found here

Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO), PFAS

Article PFAS in the Beobachter, 2021

Ecotox Center / eawag info sheet PFAS

Information page PFAS Canton Valais



About the people:
Melanie Vögtli
Co-Head of Contaminated Sites

Michael Rüffer
Partner, Senior Project Manager Contaminated sites