Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known for their widespread use and resilience, have become integral to modern life, from firefighting foams to non-stick cookware. These man-made chemicals, celebrated for their durability, embody a double-edged sword. Their resistance to natural degradation has led PFAS to infiltrate the environment, surfacing in soil, air, groundwater, and even rain. This silent accumulation over decades highlights an urgent need for innovative monitoring and management solutions to protect our world from these invisible threats.

A groundbreaking study by Restek Corporation, Dr. Shun-Hsin Liang, Justin Steimling, and Mike Chang have unveiled a significant advancement in the detection of PFAS in water sources. Their research, published in the Journal of Chromatography Open, provides a crucial tool for environmental monitoring and public health protection against these chemicals, often referred to as “forever chemicals,” due to their persistence in the environment and potential health risks.

The research addresses the challenges of analyzing ultrashort-chain and short-chain PFAS, smaller, highly polar compounds that have raised major concerns due to their widespread environmental presence. “Ultrashort-chain (USC) per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are small and very polar compounds with carbon chain lengths of less than C4. Their ubiquitous occurrence in aquatic environments has become a major concern in parallel to long-chain PFAS contamination,” Dr. Liang explains.

Employing liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) with a hybrid HILIC/ion exchange column, the team verified their method across various water sources, including tap, bottled, and sewage treatment waters. This approach effectively quantifies PFAS, demonstrating the method’s suitability for accurately measuring these chemicals in both potable and non-potable waters.

Dr. Liang reflects on the study’s impact: “A direct injection workflow was established in this study to provide a unique solution for the determination of ultrashort-chain and short-chain PFAS in various water matrices. The reported method was rugged, accurate, and precise, offering a swift analysis.” This innovation opens new paths for monitoring and regulating PFAS in the environment, representing a critical step forward in protecting public health from these enduring pollutants. The research of Dr. Liang, Steimling, and Chang successfully establishes a direct injection workflow as a unique, high-throughput, and cost-effective solution for the determination of ultrashort-chain and short-chain PFAS across various water matrices. Simplifying sample preparation and accelerating LC-MS/MS analysis, this methodology sets a new benchmark for environmental PFAS monitoring, potentially influencing future regulatory actions. This pioneering approach highlights the importance of robust analytical methods in securing environmental water systems and safeguarding public health against the pervasive threat of PFAS.


Dr. Shun-Hsin Liang, Justin Steimling, and Mike Chang, “Analysis of ultrashort-chain and short-chain (C1 to C4) per- and polyfluorinated substances in potable and non-potable waters”, Journal of Chromatography Open, 2023.



Dr. Shun-Hsin Liang is a Senior Principal Scientist at Restek Corporation. He earned his BS and MS degrees from National Taiwan University and completed his Ph.D. study at Michigan State University. Dr. Liang conducted Postdoctoral research in Oncology at the University of Michigan. In 2001, he joined Penn State University as a Research Faculty member, focusing on Molecular Toxicology research. In 2006, Dr. Liang transitioned to MPI Research Inc. as a Senior Research Scientist and played a role as Study Director for GLP analytical projects. In 2013, Dr. Liang joined LC Solutions division of Restek Corporation, specializing in developing application methods across the fields of environmental, food safety, and life sciences.