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Remediation of PFAS-Contaminated Soil and Sediment


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of man-made chemicals not found naturally in the environment. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body. To provide Americans, including the most sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS from drinking water, EPA has established the health advisory levels at 0.07ppb.

PFAS have been used to provide water, oil, and stain repellency to textiles, carpets and leather; to create greaseproof and water-proof coatings for paper plates and food packaging; and to aid processing in fluoropolymer manufacturing among many other commercial and consumer applications. They also have been used in chrome plating, firefighting foams, liquid carpet and textile care treatments, and floor waxes and sealants.

The PFAS emitted or disposed into various media from these manufacturing processes resulted in PFAS contamination of soil and sediment.  To date, soil contamination has been removed via excavation.  EPA would like to improve and advance processes, technologies, and treatment systems for the sampling, analysis, and cleanup of PFAS in soil and sediment. As a result, EPA is interested in the following topic:

Topic Code 3A: Remediation of PFAS-Contaminated Soil and Sediment. Innovative technologies that can sample, detect, analyze, remove, or destroy PFAS in and from soil and sediment.  The technologies should be widely applicable—i.e., able to address various combinations of PFAS present; various soil types and other matrices to be remediated; and other types of contaminants present.  The technologies should be effective, easy to use and maintain, and affordable.

Proposed projects can be either ex situ (analyzing or treating excavated or extracted media or waste above ground) or in situ (analyzing or treating in place).  For sampling and analysis, technologies can either detect contamination for the purpose of identifying the presence of and delineating the extent of PFAS, or produce data to support various decisions at sites where PFAS is present. For cleanup, the technologies can address contamination by reducing its toxicity, mobility, or volume by removing, destroying, or immobilizing PFASs and co-occurring contaminants from the target media. Evaluating remediation performance using accepted criteria and procedures is a critical element. The overall life cycle should be addressed—e.g., showing that remediating contaminated soil at one site will not result in transferring the risk to other media or locations.

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