Improved Understanding of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Source Zones

FY 2018 STATEMENT OF NEED

Environmental Restoration (ER) Program Area

The objective of this Statement of Need (SON) was to improve our understanding of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in source zones resulting from the use of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) formulations by the Department of Defense (DoD). In particular, the goal was to better understand the fate of precursor compounds and the role they play in sustaining perfluoroalkyl acid (PFAA) groundwater plumes, as well as the contribution to groundwater contamination of residual PFAS mass in near surface soils. Ultimately, the ability to better characterize and model the nature of sources (and associated plumes) should lead to more targeted remediation strategies based on prioritizing areas posing the greatest risk. Specifically, the goal was to address the following objectives:

  • Increase understanding of the key characteristics of AFFF source zone areas (vadose zones and/or saturated zone source areas) that affect the risk that PFASs pose to groundwater quality.
  • Development of tools and methods to better characterize the key source zone properties.
  • Investigate the nature and permanence of PFAS retardation mechanisms, and the potential use of these mechanisms in natural or enhanced attenuation.
  • Fill key data gaps regarding the biotransformation and transport of PFASs in AFFF source zones.
  • Develop analytical or mathematical tools to predict the fate and impacts of PFASs in source zones and the potential for continuing releases to groundwater plumes.

The projects listed below were selected to address the objectives of this SON. Additional information on individual projects can be found by clicking the project title.

Research should lead to improved management of PFAS-contaminated sites, specifically for residual contamination characteristic of aged source zones with particular emphasis on perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)-containing AFFF agents. Products should provide tools and guidance to users (i.e., Remedial Program Managers) on effective management options for such sites. Further, this information will be used to support cost-benefit analyses of treatment methods and management strategies. The resulting tools and understanding should improve the ability to implement effective remedial strategies at DoD sites.

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