AFFF is a water-based foam used by the Department of Defense (DoD) since the 1970s for fire suppression in ships, shore-fixed systems, aircraft hangers, and to extinguish liquid fuel fires. Until production ceased in 2002, the DoD used AFFF mixtures containing significant quantities of the PFAS perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and related perfluoroalkyl sulfonates such as perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), although the DoD continued to use PFOS-containing AFFF stocks for some time after production stopped. The DoD’s legacy use of AFFF also included various fluorotelomer-based formulations, but the majority of DoD’s environmental liability likely results from the use of PFOS-based AFFF formulations.

PFAS are anthropogenic chemicals and do not occur naturally in the environment. Due to their unique chemical structure, PFAS are very stable in the environment and are relatively resistant to biodegradation, photooxidation, direct photolysis, and hydrolysis. Some PFAS, however, notably the polyfluoroalkyls, can be degraded in the environment, in some cases producing perfluoroalkyls, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFAS tend to bioaccumulate, and laboratory studies have shown that these compounds can have adverse health effects. The potential magnitude of the DoD’s PFAS liabilities will require a sustained effort to identify the best technologies to characterize, treat, and manage PFAS-impacted sites.

Since FY 2011, SERDP and ESTCP have addressed the issue of PFAS by both developing new PFAS-free firefighting formulations and by improving our management of PFAS in the environment. An overview of these investments is shown below.

Management of PFAS in the Environment

Investment in efforts to improve management of PFAS in the environment are extensive and encompass four broad areas: occurrence, fate, and transport in the environment; treatment of PFAS-impacted matrices; ecological impact of PFAS; and improvements to sampling and analysis. Additional information about these specific topics and associated projects is available by clicking the respective topic areas. Learn More...

PFAS-Free Firefighting Formulations

SERDP and ESTCP studies aimed at developing PFAS-free firefighting formulations are addressing four areas: development of new innovative formulations, testing of commercial formulations for the ability to meet current military specifications, evaluation of the ecotoxicity of new PFAS-free firefighting formulations, and assessment of methodologies for cleanout of aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) trucks that contained PFAS-based formulations. Additional information about these specific topics and associated projects is available by clicking the respective topic areas. Learn More...

Workshop Report:
Long Term Mgmt of Contaminated Groundwater
Workshop Report:
PFAS R&D Needs
Workshop Report:
PFAS R&D Needs
    Creation of AFFF Reference Material   Ecotoxicity of PFAS-Free AFFF   Ecotoxicity of Mixtures Analytical Methods for Total PFAS in PFAS-free AFFF Concentration Technologies
Source Zones   Alternative Formulations for PFAS-Free AFFF   Ecotoxicity in the Marine Environment AFFF Impacted Concrete and Asphalt Analytical and Environmental Sampling Methods
    Investigation Derived Waste   Biodegradation   Ecotoxicity & Risk in Avian Species Stormwater Management Destructive Treatment Processes
In Situ Groundwater Remediation
  In Situ & Ex Situ Groundwater Remediation Multilab Method Validation Passive Sampling Methodologies   PFAS-Impacted Material Treatment Transformation in Soil and Groundwater Fate and Transport
In Situ Groundwater Remediation
Co-Occuring Chemicals in Groundwater Ecorisk/Assessing Remediation Effectiveness Ecological Risk Characterization Analytical Methods to Assess Leaching and Mobility Amendments for In Situ Groundwater Remediation PFAS-Free Fire Suppressant Enhancements PFAS-Free Firefighting Agents Performance Self-Assembly Behavior of PFAS
PFAS-Free Aqueous Film Forming Foam PFAS-Free Aqueous Film Forming Foam Analytical and Environmental Sampling Methods Forensic Methods for Source Tracking and Allocation Thermal Destructive Technologies Thermal Degradation of Polymeric PFAS in Munitions PFAS-Free Firefighting Agents Testing Thermal Destructive Processes
2011 - 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
FAQs Regarding PFAS at DoD Sites
Thermally-Enhanced Persulfate Oxidation Followed by P&T Ion Exchange & Low Energy Electrical Discharge Plasma Process Sub-Micron Powdered Activated Carbon & Ceramic Membrane Filter System PFAS-Impacted Material Treatment Ex Situ Thermal Treatment PFAS-Impacted Material Treatment PFAS-Impacted Material Treatment  
Characterization of the Nature and Extent of PFAS at DoD Sites
  Life Cycle Comparison of Ex Situ Treatment Technologies Mobile Lab-Based Real Time PFAS Analytical Methods Monitoring and Characterization Monitoring and Characterization Monitoring and Characterization Monitoring and Characterization  
      Source Zone Treatment Technology (D-FAS) In Situ Treatment In Situ Treatment In Situ Treatment In Situ Treatment  
  Demonstration of PFAS-Free Formulations Demonstration of PFAS-Free Formulations Ex Situ Chemical Reduction Demonstration of PFAS-Free Formulations    
        Firefighting Systems Cleaning Nanofiltration and Plasma      


  Treatment   Ecotoxicity   Fate, Transport and Characterization   Analytical and Sampling Methods   PFAS-Free AFFF