Army Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

 

What are PFOS and PFOA?

Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are two types of fluorinated organic chemical that are part of a larger group of chemicals referred to as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  PFOS/PFOA are commonly used in household items such as non-stick cookware, clothing, shoes, furniture, and carpets.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new drinking water Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) for PFOS/PFOA.  The new drinking water LHA is 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOS/PFOA, individually or combined.

For context, one (1) ppt is equivalent to one (1) drop of water in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

water drop and 20 pools

Since the 1970s, the Army has been using Aqueous Film Forming foam (AFFF), a firefighting agent used to suppress fuel fires.  AFFF contains both PFOS/PFOA and is commonly used by civilian firefighters as well.  The Army has ceased the use of PFOS-containing AFFF except for emergencies and is collaborating with Navy and the rest of DoD in its assessments of substitutes for PFOS containing AFFF.