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 MixturesAnalytical Methods for Total PFAS in PFAS-free AFFFConcentration Technologies
Source Zones Alternative Formulations for PFAS-Free AFFF Ecotoxicity in the Marine EnvironmentAFFF Impacted Concrete and AsphaltAnalytical and Environmental Sampling Methods
  Investigation Derived Waste Biodegradation Ecotoxicity & Risk in Avian SpacesStormwater ManagementDestructive Treatment Processes
In Situ Groundwater Remediation
 In Situ & Ex Situ Groundwater RemediationMultilab Method ValidationPassive Sampling Methodologies PFAS-Impacted Material TreatmentTransformation in Soil and GroundwaterFate and Transport
In Situ Groundwater Remediation
Co-Occuring Chemicals in GroundwaterEcorisk/Assessing Remediation EffectivenessEcological Risk CharacterizationAnalytical Methods to Assess Leaching and MobilityAmendments for In Situ Groundwater RemediationPFAS-Free Fire Suppressant EnhancementsPFAS-Free Firefighting Agents PerformanceSelf-Assembly Behavior of PFAS
PFAS-Free Aqueous Film Forming FoamPFAS-Free Aqueous Film Forming FoamAnalytical and Environmental Sampling MethodsForensic Methods for Source Tracking and AllocationThermal Destructive TechnologiesThermal Degradation of Polymeric PFAS in MunitionsPFAS-Free Firefighting Agents TestingThermal Destructive Processes
2011 - 201620172018201920202021202220232024
FAQs Regarding PFAS at DoD Sites
Thermally-Enhanced Persulfate Oxidation Followed by P&TIon Exchange & Low Energy Electrical Discharge Plasma ProcessSub-Micron Powdered Activated Carbon & Ceramic Membrane Filter SystemPFAS-Impacted Material TreatmentEx Situ Thermal TreatmentPFAS-Impacted Material TreatmentPFAS-Impacted Material Treatment 
Characterization of the Nature and Extent of PFAS at DoD Sites
 Life Cycle Comparison of Ex Situ Treatment TechnologiesMobile Lab-Based Real Time PFAS Analytical MethodsMonitoring and CharacterizationMonitoring and CharacterizationMonitoring and CharacterizationMonitoring and Characterization 
   Source Zone Treatment Technology (D-FAS)In Situ TreatmentIn Situ TreatmentIn Situ TreatmentIn Situ Treatment 
 Demonstration of PFAS-Free FormulationsDemonstration of PFAS-Free FormulationsEx Situ Chemical ReductionDemonstration of PFAS-Free Formulations  
    Firefighting Systems CleaningNanofiltration and Plasma   


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