SERDP is funding research to develop PFAS-free firefighting formulations for use in class B fire-suppression operations as well as testing commercially available PFAS-free products under ESTCP to determine whether these formulations can meet the current DoD performance requirements. Although these formulations are being developed and tested for their performance, there is still a need to understand the ecotoxicity, specifically the chronic toxicity, of these newer products.

In 2020, SERDP began funding a group of projects investigating the relative environmental toxicity of candidate PFAS-free firefighting formulations. These projects will each study the same six (6) formulations in different environmental receptors and provide a ranking of the toxicities to assist in the selection of a new formulation for use by the DoD. A description of these new projects is provided below.

In this proof-of-concept project, Dr. Xiaoqin Wu and her team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will assess the ecotoxicity of novel PFAS-free formulations on terrestrial plants and soil invertebrates. Chronic toxicities of the test formulations will be studied to determine which chemicals within the formulations have high bioconcentration potential in biota samples via nontarget analysis. (Project Overview)

At the U.S. Army Public Health Center, Dr. Michael Quinn and his team are comparing the toxicities of PFAS-free formulations relative to the short-chain AFFF formulations currently used. Chronic exposure experiments will be completed on wild mice to provide a ranking of the relative toxicities of each formulation. (Project Overview)

Dr. Ed Wirth from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and his team will develop ecotoxicological data and determine the relative toxicities of PFAS-free formulations compared with AFFF formulations containing fluorosurfactants, by developing empirical data for chronic toxicity to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Results of this project will support a holistic environmental assessment of candidate PFAS-free firefighting formulations for DoD site managers. (Project Overview)

At EA Engineering Science and Technology, Inc., Dr. Jamie Suski and her team are quantifying the potential ecotoxicity of PFAS-free formulations to aquatic and terrestrial species and comparing to the product toxicity of the new generation short-chain PFAS-containing AFFF. Using multi-taxa ecotoxicity studies with acute and chronic exposure durations, the project results will further the understanding of environmental and ecological concerns associated with PFAS-free formulations and the new generation AFFF formulations currently in use. (Project Overview)

Dr. Roman Kuperman from the U.S. Army Chemical Biological Center and his team are developing ecological data for candidate PFAS-free formulations and determining their relative toxicities by developing empirical data for chronic toxicity of these formulations for soil invertebrates and terrestrial plants. These results will provide critical data to decision makers for use in environment, safety, and occupational health evaluations of new technologies and risk-based decisions. (Project Overview)

Dr. Jason Hoverman from Purdue University and his team will assess the relative toxicity to aquatic species of PFAS-free formulations. Through chronic exposure tests with zooplankton and larval amphibians, an improved understanding of the effects of these PFAS-free formulations on the reproduction, growth, and development of aquatic species in North America will be developed. (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.