State of Knowledge and Practice

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Based on USEPA sampling of water supply systems, up to fifteen million people live in areas where PFAS concentrations are above the USEPA health advisory.

The National Ground Water Association today announced the development and release of Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice. A 12-month effort by 36 volunteers spending 1100 hours, this comprehensive eight-part guidance document explores these potentially hazardous, and widely discussed, compounds in groundwater and soil.

NGWA published this document to identify the known science and knowledge related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) compounds. It summarizes the fate, transport, remediation, and treatment of PFAS, as well as current technologies, methods, and field procedures used to characterize sites and test remediation and treatment technologies.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), PFAS are a class of manmade chemicals that are very persistent in the environment and in the human body. Widely used to make products more stain-resistant, waterproof, and/or nonstick, PFAS are sometimes used in the manufacture of products that:


  •     Keep food from sticking to cookware
  •     Make upholstered furniture, carpets, and clothing resistant to soil, stains, and water
  •     Make shoes, clothes, and mattresses more waterproof
  •     Keep food packaging from sticking to food
  •     Help fight fires at airfields and other places where petroleum-product-based fires are a risk.

PFAS contamination may be present at some landfills receiving waste since the 1950s and facilities using aqueous film foaming foams (AFFF) such as fire-training facilities, civilian and military airports, petroleum terminals, and refineries. Moreover, any raw materials and commercial products might contain PFAS, and facilities using these products or raw materials might not realize PFAS are present because of unclear packaging or labeling.

While research on the possible health effects of exposure to PFAS is ongoing, NGWA outlines the current information on human exposure in this document. Key findings include:

  •     Studies have estimated more than 95 percent of the U.S. population has been exposed to PFAS and have…

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