Evidence of Remediation-Induced Alteration of Subsurface Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substance (PFAS) Distribution at a Former Firefighter Training Area Public Deposited

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  • Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a class of fluorinated chemicals that are utilized in firefighting and have been reported in groundwater and soil at several firefighter training areas. In this study, soil and groundwater samples were collected from across a former firefighter training area to examine the extent to which remedial activities have altered the composition and spatial distribution of PFASs in the subsurface. Log K[subscript oc] values for perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), estimated from analysis of paired samples of groundwater and aquifer solids, indicated that solid/water partitioning was not entirely consistent with predictions based on laboratory studies. Differential PFAA transport was not strongly evident in the subsurface, likely due to remediation-induced conditions. When compared to the surface soil spatial distributions, the relative concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and PFAA precursors in groundwater strongly suggest that remedial activities altered the subsurface PFAS distribution, presumably through significant pumping of groundwater and transformation of precursors to PFAAs. Additional evidence for transformation of PFAA precursors during remediation included elevated ratios of perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) to PFOS in groundwater near oxygen sparging wells.
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  • McGuire, M. E., Schaefer, C., Richards, T., Backe, W. J., Field, J. A., Houtz, E., . . . Higgins, C. P. (2014). Evidence of remediation-induced alteration of subsurface poly- and perfluoroalkyl substance distribution at a former firefighter training area. Environmental Science & Technology, 48(12), 6644-6652. doi:10.1021/es5006187
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  • 48
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  • 12
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  • The authors thank the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment (BAA 689 and the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP ER2126 and ER 2128) for financial support for this project, as well as the NSF CO-AMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship at Colorado School of Mines.
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