SERDP and ESTCP have been working on issues associated with PFAS since 2011. Information about all funded projects is available on our website. In 2020, SERDP began funding a group of projects designed to develop improved forensic methods and tools for source tracking and allocation of PFAS. A summary of these projects is provided below with links to individual project web pages.


  • Dr. Christopher Higgins at Colorado School of Mines and his team are developing a forensic approach for source allocation of PFAS present in impacted waters to differentiate the effect associated with the use of AFFF and non-AFFF sources. This project will develop a database, pathway map, and high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) library to provide additional context and rigor to source apportionment analysis and enable more definitive identification of PFAS sources.  (Project Overview)


  • At NewFields Government Services, Dr. Mark Benotti and his team will employ a tiered analytical approach to characterize PFAS source materials and provide a framework for PFAS forensics in environmental samples. This project will establish a PFAS source library and allow regulators to identify features of PFAS associated with AFFF formulations versus those associated with other classes of PFAS. (Project Overview)


  • In this proof-of-concept project, Dr. Tohren Kibbey and his team at the University of Oklahoma are using machine learning algorithms to evaluate the probability that detected PFAS in environmental samples comes from AFFF sources. Using existing PFAS-impacted site data, machine learning algorithms will be trained to distinguish PFAS chemicals from different origins. (Project Overview)


  • At Colorado State University, Dr. Jens Blotevogel and his team will apply ultrahigh-resolution Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) to identify compounds in AFFF at the molecular level. These identified compounds will be used to guide the development of novel analytical approaches to identify unique marker compounds for AFFF “fingerprinting” and PFAS source allocation, and catalogue PFAS associated with AFFF releases in this proof-of-concept project. (Project Overview)


  • Dr. David Sedlak and his team at the University of California, Berkeley will develop and assess forensic tools to differentiate PFAS associated with AFFF from PFAS originating in other sources. The project will provide a robust and accessible method to quantify the relative contributions of different PFAS sources.  (Project Overview)


  • Dr. Benjamin Place at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and his team are developing a data analytics infrastructure to contain PFAS mass spectral information and metadata of detected PFAS. This readily available reference database will allow analytical laboratories, both DoD and others, to identify unknown PFAS during their non-targeted analysis protocol. (Project Overview)


Summaries of these research projects are available on the SERDP and ESTCP website and all reports originating from these efforts will be available from the project webpages.