The National Academies

ACRP 02-91 [Active]

Development of PFAS Source Differentiation Guidelines for Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $299,838
Staff Responsibility: Joseph D. Navarrete
Research Agency: Terracon Consultants, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Janet Anderson
Effective Date: 5/11/2021
Completion Date: 11/10/2022



Airports face increasing regulatory and technical challenges for addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) found on or near their facilities. While the source of PFAS in an area may be attributable to airport activity, including the use of aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) during aircraft rescue and firefighting activities, or from tenants storing AFFF or other PFAS-containing materials, airports may also have neighbors who use products that contain PFAS. When PFAS is found at or near an airport, it is important to identify the source and to help manage the cost and liability of possible remediation. Yet source attribution can be a complex and difficult undertaking, particularly in an airport setting. Research is needed to advance the understanding and use of PFAS source differentiation so it can be applied to airports with greater confidence.




The objectives of this research are to develop: (1) a guidebook of recommended practices for determining the source(s) of PFAS detected in soil and water on or near an airport and (2) a primer for airport practitioners describing PFAS source attribution concepts and techniques in lay terms.


The research and resulting recommended practices should consider (but not be limited to) the following:

  • Chemical fingerprinting;
  • Sampling protocol;
  • Laboratory data and analytical methods;
  • Site specific characteristics (e.g., geology, topography);
  • Locations and identification of known storage, use, and release of PFAS-containing materials;
  • Surrounding industries and activities involving PFAS;
  • Chemical transformation characteristics; and
  • Fate and transport.


The final deliverables will include:

  • Guidebook;
  • Primer;
  • Summary of Key Findings;
  • Further Recommended Research Memo; and
  • Technical memorandum titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products".

Status: Research is underway.

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