Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are part of a man-made class of chemicals called Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). These chemicals are long lasting in the environment and have been used since the 1950s in many products because of their stain and water repellant properties and have been present in regular household items such as fabric for upholstered furniture, carpets, nonstick cookware, floor wax. These chemicals are also found in Aqueous Film Forming Foam, or AFFF, used to control petroleum-based fires. PFOS/PFOA have been globally distributed in the environment and have been detected in the blood of humans, wildlife, and fish.
The Environmental Protection Agency established drinking water health advisory levels for PFOS and PFOA - at 70 parts per trillion (ppt) in 2016 because of a potential risk to human health. The EPA classifies PFOS and PFOA as unregulated emerging contaminants.
Aqueous Film Forming Foam, or AFFF, is a firefighting agent used commercially and by the Department of Defense (DoD), including the Air Force since 1970. Most commonly used to combat petroleum fires in aircraft accidents,hangars and during live-fire training exercises, this formulation of AFFF contains perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) - two perfluorinated compounds that persist in the environment are not known to degrade by any natural process.
In March 2011, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center initiated an informal plan for Air Force fire chiefs to dispose of “excess” PFOS-based AFFF Air Force-wide over a 10-year period. In November 2015, more environmentally responsible formulas were added to the DoD’s qualified products list for firefighting agents. The Air Force began replacing both PFOS-based and other legacy AFFF products with a new, environmentally responsible formula in August 2016. The Air Force completed new foam delivery in August 2017. The Air Force is eliminating legacy AFFF through incineration at authorized disposal facilities.
The Florida Air National Guard conducted sampling on base through our environmental office along with the Environmental Protection Agency in January 2018. The tests did not find any harmful amounts of PFOS present in the drinking water supply. A follow up is scheduled for later this year.
The water on base is safe for consumption and the Thunder continues to be good stewards to the environment and the communities we serve. If there are any questions, please feel free to contact the wing safety office at (904) 741-7015.