Air Force to Incorporate New PFAS Standards into Cleanup Efforts

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The Air Force Will Adopt New PFAS Standards
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The Air Force will integrate new federal standards for “forever chemicals” into its future cleanup projects, potentially increasing water testing for on- and off-base residents with contaminated supplies.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established new drinking water standards in April, limiting exposure to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which do not degrade in the environment and accumulate in the body, posing health risks like cancer and high cholesterol.

These EPA guidelines will shape the Air Force’s cleanup protocols for bases and nearby water supplies contaminated by PFAS, particularly from the military’s use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) for firefighting.

Air Force Testing for PFAS Contamination
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Since 2015, PFAS contamination has been found at 191 out of 204 Air Force installations inspected, raising concerns for nearby communities.

The Air Force announced potential increased sampling of off-base drinking water, with actions such as connecting homes to municipal water supplies or installing filtration systems if PFAS levels exceed the EPA’s action thresholds.

Quarterly sampling will ensure water remains below these levels.

Under the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the military must cease using PFAS-containing firefighting foam by October 2024, though extensions are possible.

Beyond firefighting foam, the Air Force is evaluating other PFAS sources at various installations to prioritize cleanup at high-risk locations, in collaboration with the Department of Defense, regulatory agencies, and affected communities.