Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are part of a family of
synthetic fluorinated chemicals called per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used for a wide
variety of residential, commercial and industrial purposes. The Environmental Protection Agency
established a Lifetime Health Advisory level of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOS and/or PFOA in
drinking water because of a potential risk to human health.
1. The safety and health of our Airmen, their families, and our community partners are our
- We are members of the communities where we serve. We share concerns about potential PFOS/PFOA contamination of drinking water and we are moving aggressively to protect drinking water supplies connected to and affected by our installations.
- We are committed to protecting human health on and around former bases and are working with regulators and community leaders. We share concerns about potential PFOS/PFOA contamination of drinking water and we are moving aggressively to protect drinking water supplies affected by our former Air Force activities.
- We know our firefighting mission may have adversely affected human drinking water around our installations and we are working very hard with our community partners and regulatory agencies to identify and resolve those impacts.
- Tests of all on-base drinking water were finished in January 2017 and found 11 of 177 systems that exceeded the EPA’s LHA. Response Actions are complete at all 11 installations.
- The Air Force identified approximately 200 installations (active, Reserve, Air National Guard and BRAC) where mission-related legacy firefighting foam may have been released and is conducting site inspections to confirm if releases occurred, identify human drinking water sources that may be adversely impacted, and evaluate if a release will likely impact human drinking water. As of June 2019, we have completed 78 percent of those site inspections.
2. The Air Force is taking aggressive action to identify and respond to drinking water that
is above the EPA’s LHA for PFOS/PFOA as a result of our past Air Force firefighting
- The Air Force follows the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to investigate AFFF releases and evaluate whether there is a potential for PFOS/PFOA contamination to reach drinking water supplies.
- Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are part of a family of synthetic fluorinated chemicals called per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used for a wide variety of residential, commercial and industrial purposes.
- The Environmental Protection Agency established a Lifetime Health Advisory level of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOS and/or PFOA in drinking water because of a potential risk to human health.
- When we identify drinking water with PFOS/PFOA above the EPA’s drinking water lifetime health advisory as a result of our past mission activities, we will work with the community to determine response actions such as providing an alternate drinking water source, filtration system, and/or providing bottled water, if needed.
- When past Air Force activities are the cause of contamination, we are committed to following the CERCLA process at Air Force release sites to evaluate unacceptable risk to human health and the environment with the understanding that individual release sites may result in a range of response and clean-up actions.
3. PFOS/PFOA contamination of drinking water is an urgent national issue requiring a whole of government response to evaluate and determine solutions for health effects and concerns about food safety and agricultural commodities.
- PFOS and PFOA are chemicals that were used in many industrial and consumer products, such as nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabric, some food packaging, and specialized firefighting foam used by military and commercial airport fire departments.
- The Air Force is proud to be a leader in the response to PFOS/PFOA, and we will continue to work with our neighbors, regulators and elected officials to comply with environmental protection law and protect human health and our environment.
- Concerns about PFOS/PFOA go beyond drinking water contamination. Although the EPA lifetime health advisory applies only to drinking water for humans, we are working with our partner agencies to address PFOS/PFOA challenges more comprehensively, and address gaps in funds, authorities, and legislation.
- The Air Force relies on the Center for Disease Control and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to investigate and conduct research on emerging environmental health threats and provide guidance to state and local health partners. We will support recommended activities to the extent allowed by law.
- The Air Force looks to the EPA for drinking water standards, risk assessment values, and guidance on environmental issues, like emerging contaminants. We will continue to apply EPA guidance and standards to complete the CERLA process.
- We are committed to being proactive in our efforts to address PFOS/PFOA-related issues and maintaining open dialogue with our community members and stakeholders.
4. The Air Force is transitioning to an alternative firefighting foam and taking steps to reduce the opportunity for replacement firefighting chemicals to enter the environment.
- With the identification of an effective firefighting foam substitute in November 2015, we began replacing our inventory of legacy AFFF with an alternative version.
- The Air Force completed new foam delivery in August 2017. Transition to the new formula is complete in fire trucks and stockpiles. Transition in hangar systems is expected to be finished by the end of 2019.
- The Air Force is retrofitting all our fire vehicles with an Eco-logic system which enables fire protection testing without AFFF discharges. As of July 2019, retrofitting approximately 850 fire trucks is 97 percent complete.
- The Air Force limits use of the AFFF foam to emergency responses. Use of AFFF for training must be approved by SAF/IEE and managed accordingly. Whenever we have an uncontained release – such as during an emergency response to an aircraft crash – we take immediate action to ensure containment and removal.