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Leading the Way on Identification of Emerging Contaminants

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An example of PFCs being used in a hangar.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—including perfluorinated compounds (PFCs)—are a class of synthetic compounds that are resistant to heat, water and oil. They are used in hundreds of products including non-stick cookware, food packaging, waterproof clothing, fabric stain protectors, lubricants, paints, and firefighting foams such as aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). PFCs are persistent, resist degradation, and are bioaccumulative. The US Environmental Protection Agency has developed health advisories for drinking water containing two PFCs, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and/or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

For three decades, until 2002, the Department of Defense (DoD) purchased AFFF containing PFOS and/or PFOA (eight carbon chain formulations) for firefighting and firefighting training activities. Since 2002, all AFFF purchased by the DoD have been produced by the telomerization process (six carbon chain formulations), which contains no PFOS but can potentially break down in the environment to produce PFOA and other perfluorocarboxylic acids. AFFF use at military installations may have included aircraft hangars, plane crash and fire emergency response sites, firefighting equipment testing areas, fire trucks/emergency vehicle wash racks/areas, waste water treatment plants, waste lagoons, and other AFFF storage areas.

Since 2013, SES companies have supported the U.S. Air Force and Army PFC programs through seven projects worth almost $37 million – growing from an initial $1.5M task completed by SES Construction and Fuel Services at 10 installations for the USACE Savannah District, to a current $19M investigation by Aerostar SES at 18 Air Force Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) installations. We have collected more than 1,000 PFC samples from 550 AFFF areas at 65 DoD installations nationwide. We have also participated in restoration advisory board and other public meetings; worked with industry and academic leaders for technology exchange and research support; and established an in-house Emerging Contaminant Group dedicated to investigating/mitigating PFCs to maintain our position as a top PFC service provider. For more information on Aerostar’s experience with PFCs, click here.

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