Air Force Actions

The Air Force’s sampling and investigation work and response actions are guided by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or "CERCLA", and applicable state and federal regulations.
The Air Force response strategy for PFOS/PFOA has three lines of effort: protecting human health, communication and collaboration and a whole-of-government approach to address this national issue.

Line of Effort #1 - Protect Human Health

Air Force investigation work and response actions follow CERCLA, also known also as Superfund.

Identify – Preliminary Assessments are conducted to identify potential AFFF storage, usage and releases. Site Inspections are being conducted to determine if AFFF was released to the environment and if human drinking water has been, or may be, impacted. The Air Force  tested on-base drinking water to evaluate for PFOS/PFOA exceedance of 70 parts per trillion, or ppt.

Respond – We are responding to PFOS/PFOA above 70 ppt in drinking water and pathways to human receptors impacted by an Air Force release of AFFF.

Prevent – We have replaced AFFF with a more environmentally responsible formulation that contains no detectable levels of PFOS or PFOA at all our locations, and we no longer allow uncontrolled AFFF discharges for system testing and training. In the event of a discharge, we respond as if it were a hazardous material spill.

Line of Effort #2 - Communication and Collaboration

The Air Force recognizes that transparent and consistent communication and collaboration with federal, state, and local stakeholders is necessary to address the complex national issue of PFOS/PFOA. As we gather data to develop informed solutions, we actively work with the community partners, advisory boards, regulators, and other local, state, and federal stakeholders to get their input, work through specific issues, and collaboratively implement our PFOS/PFOA program.

Line of Effort #3 - Whole-of-Government Approach

We recognize that a whole-of- government approach is needed to address what has become a national issue requiring extensive interagency coordination. The intended outcome is to identify unified solutions to PFOS/PFOA challenges through interagency relationships.

Investigating AFFF releases

In the continental U.S., AFCEC is conducting investigative work in conjunction with the drinking water sampling program to fully characterize and define PFAS impacts.

Review historical base data and records to identify AFFF releases and potential for drinking water impacts.

Gather data to further investigate possible drinking water impacts. Sampling is prioritized by factors such as: potential pathways to drinking water, depth to groundwater and potential for impacts to migrate off base.

Remedial Investigations by RI: Step 3

Further investigation to characterize and define impacts found during the SI phase. The RI phase of CERCLA investigates off site impacts.
Preventing future impacts

As part of the Air Force's enterprise-wide effort to reduce further impacts, the Air Force is swapping out legacy Aqueous Film Forming Foam for a more environmentally responsible replacement.

In November 2015, Naval Sea Systems Command, the organization responsible for the military specification for Department of Defense firefighting foam, added new, more environmentally responsible AFFF formulas to the qualified products list. The new products tend to be less toxic, are not considered bio-accumulative and are PFOS-free and contain only trace amounts of PFOA. The Air Force is retrofitting fire vehicles with an Eco-Logic system that supports fire protection training needs and is environmentally friendly. The new system bypasses the tank containing AFFF and, instead, flows water through the extinguishing system and the cart, gathering data readings and discharging water from the vehicle's turret. The Air Force also modified training procedures to further reduce impact risks.