Investigating Potential Risk to Threatened and Endangered Species from Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) on Department of Defense (DoD) Sites

Jamie Suski | EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc.



The objectives of this project are to: (1) address the information needs concerning the likely co-occurrence of specific Threatened and Endangered (T&E) species as defined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination at Department of Defense (DoD) installations and (2) develop a tiered approach to quickly and cost-effectively conduct a screening-level assessment of risk or identify important data and modeling needs to reduce uncertainty in assessing risk to T&E species that may be exposed to PFASs on DoD installations.

 ER18-1626 Graphic 1

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Technical Approach

This project's technical approach is divided into four primary tasks that build upon each other, with the goal to synthesize all data into an operational conceptual framework for assessing PFAS risks to T&E species on DoD sites (Task 4). The tasks are outlined below:

Objective 1: Co-occurrence of PFAS contamination and T&E species on DoD sites and potential toxicity of PFASs to T&E species.

  • Task 1: Identification of DoD installations that are or may be contaminated with PFASs resulting from the historical use of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) in fire suppression activities.
  • Task 2: Determine Locations, Occurrences, and Exposure of Rare, Threatened or Endangered Species on DoD Installations identified in Task 1 as PFAS-contaminated (or likely contaminated). Geographic Information System (GIS) geodatabase data layers and taxa specific exposure models will be used to assess potential PFAS exposure to T&E species.

Objective 2: Develop tiered assessment approach for T&E species risk assessments.

  • Task 3: Identify and/or derive toxicity benchmarks (e.g., Toxicity Reference Values) for use in understanding and estimating potential effects of PFASs exposure to T&E species found in Task 2.
  • Task 4: Synthesize Outcomes from Tasks 1-3 into an overall conceptual framework for assessing risk to listed species that inhabit PFAS-contaminated installations. Further develop and illustrate framework for 1-2 case studies.

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The scope of PFAS contamination from AFFF use on DoD installations is yet to be completely defined. However, this research will provide a much-needed analysis of DoD installations that have the potential to cause risk to T&E species from environmental exposures to PFASs. This project will result in two deliverables in the form of white papers which (1) will identify DoD installations with known or potential PFAS contamination (resulting from historical AFFF use) and with known occurrence of T&E species, and (2) will provide a tiered framework for assessing risk to T&E species. This framework will be designed for installation natural resource managers to quickly and cost effectively determine if there is probable risk to T&E species on PFAS-contaminated installations as well as aiding in identifying important data needs that can refine risk estimates. These deliverables along with technology transfer activities (e.g., webinars) will help to ensure military readiness, range sustainability, and public health and environmental protectiveness. (Anticipated Completion - November 2019)

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Dr. Jamie Suski

EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc.

Phone: 410-584-7000

Program Manager

Environmental Restoration