What are PFAS?

PFAS refers to the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). It is a group of several thousand anthropogenic compounds, among which PFOA and PFOS are the most-studied. These chemicals contain covalent bonds between carbon and multiple fluorine atoms, one of the strongest single bonds in chemistry and nature found in around 30 natural products. These strong C-F bonds give PFAS beneficial chemical properties for making numerous oil-, stain-, and water-repellent products used in various industries. Unfortunately, these same carbon-fluorine bonds also make PFAS extremely resistant to breakdown, and due to this, these chemicals are sometimes designated as "forever chemicals". However, recent data confirmed that some plants can accumulate these compounds and that some microorganisms have the potential to reduce the concentration of PFAS in polluted water, soil, or sediment. Recently published studies also confirmed that certain PFAS can accumulate and stay in the human body for long periods. In humans, they can be associated with health harm effects, including high cholesterol, immune suppression, thyroid hormone disruption, low infant birth weights, and even certain cancers. The Serbian national chemicals legislation recognizes these chemicals, but none of the existing scientific or governmental institutions analyze these compounds. In addition, a solution to the challenge of remediation is not in sight.


Overall objective

The Overall objective of the PFAStwin is to significantly strengthen the capacity of UBFC in the field of state-of-the-art PFAS analysis and bioremediation by promoting collaboration with institutions from partner countries: France (BRGM) and Spain (IQOG); in order to raise the individual strength of Republic of Serbia to mitigate the PFAS pollutions as well as to develop innovative strategies for solving the most challenging environmental problems.

Specific objectives:

  • Develop a scientific strategy for PFAS analysis and bioremediation for UBFC
  • Provide knowledge transfer toward UBFC by organizing trainings in EU partner institutions
  • Spread the knowledge and enhance networking through the organization of three comprehensive summer schools
  • Establish new approaches for PFAS analysis and bioremediation at UBFC
  • Increase mobility of qualified scientists by research and training grants
  • Strengthen the research management capacities and administrative skills of the UBFC staff
  • Disseminating and communicating the outcomes of the project