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The DEC published cleanup levels for two types of PFAS, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in groundwater in November 2016. The groundwater-cleanup levels are described at the DEC SPAR Project webpage under Contaminated Sites Regulation Project (June 2018).
The EPA established a provisional health advisory (PHA) level for PFOS and PFOA in drinking water in 2009. However, in May 2016, the EPA issued a new lifetime health advisory (LHA) level of 70 parts per trillion for the sum of the PFOS and PFOA concentrations.
PFAS are "emerging contaminants," or chemicals with limited data on human health effects. PFOS and PFOA are the most studied. PFAS are used in products that resist fire, stains, grease, and water. While PFAS can be found in firefighting foam, they can also be present in furniture and carpets treated for stain resistance, waterproof clothing, and food packaging.
Beginning in 2001, 3M and other major manufacturers of fire-fighting foams and consumer products containing PFAS-related chemicals began to phase out the use of PFOA and PFOS in these products due to findings that these chemicals can be harmful.
PFAS that enter the environment are known to persist for a long time and may travel long distances in groundwater.
To learn more visit the Division of Spill Prevention and Response Contaminated Sites website here.
On August 21, 2018, DEC established guidance for the State of Alaska that groups five similar compounds into a combined PFAS action level to be compared to the EPA lifetime health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion. The DEC action level is the level above which DEC will require the provision of alternative drinking water to affected properties. Out of caution, DEC will require the provision of alternative drinking water to affected properties with levels above 65 parts per trillion. 70 parts per trillion is roughly equal to three drops in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) contamination at state owned properties or sites that the Department is responsible for. Evaluation includes all past and present Part 139 airports and formerly known Department of Defense (DoD) sites. DEC is determining priority in sampling sites and conducting initial water sampling to establish whether or not PFAS is present above DEC action levels.
Once PFAS presence is established, DOT&PF will mobilize an independent environmental firm to assist with departmental response. This will include field sampling and analysis of ground water, surface water, drinking water, and soils; implementation of a temporary water solution for impacted property owners; public and stakeholder engagement, outreach, and support; engineering and design for remediation solutions, as well as alternative permanent water supply concepts; site characterization and plume identification.
To date, DOT&PF has responded in two communities where PFAS contamination has been identified. DOT&PF recognizes the importance of immediate corrective action as the health and safety of the public is of upmost importance. In both cases, an alternate source of drinking water was immediately supplied to impacted residents. In addition to contracting with an independent environmental firm to support DOT&PF’s response across Alaska, the Department has created a position to manage the response efforts related to PFAS contamination. This includes but is not limited to interdepartmental coordination and travel logistics, public and stakeholder outreach, and contract management.
Additionally, DOT&PF has begun inventorying their Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) throughout the state in order to dispose of AFFF manufactured prior to 2015. The Department has been exploring alternate testing mechanisms that will allow airports to meet minimum petroleum firefighting training requirements mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). DOT&PF is staying abreast of regulations requiring the FAA to produce a fluorine-free AFFF option for airports. DOT&PF will continue to work with the DEC, Division of Risk Management, Department of Health and Social Services and the environmental consulting firm to ensure response efforts are met fully.
PFAS Contract Manager
DOT&PF – Statewide Aviation