The National Academies

ACRP 02-91 [Pending]

Development of PFAS Source Differentiation Guidelines for Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Contract Time: 18 months
Staff Responsibility: Joseph D. Navarrete



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 ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives. The work proposed must be divided into tasks, and proposers must describe each task in detail. As noted above, if additional research to improve practice is identified during the course of this study, an additional $190,000 is available to undertake this additional research, subject to ACRP approval. Proposers should include in their proposal their initial thinking of possible additional research tasks.


The research plan should include, at a minimum, the following interim deliverables: 

  • Technical Report 1 that includes a literature review, description and evaluation of current state of practice for PFAS source differentiation in an airport setting, and research gaps;
  • Interim report documenting the research efforts and results of the project to date and recommended next steps, including a plan to address selected research gaps, if appropriate; and
  • Technical Report 2 documenting the results of the additional research conducted to address selected research gaps (if approved and undertaken) and providing an update of industry practice since the submittal of Technical Report 1.

The research plan also should include, at a minimum, the following checkpoints with the ACRP project panel: (1) kickoff web meeting to be held within 1 month of contract execution; (2) web meeting to review the results of Technical Report 1; (3) interim meeting to review the results of the interim report; and (4) web meeting to review the results of Technical Report 2, if needed.


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: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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