The National Academies

ACRP 02-93 [Completed]

Guidebook for PFAS Management at Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Research Agency: RS&H, Inc.
Principal Investigator: John Lengel
Effective Date: 6/4/2021
Completion Date: 11/5/2023



An unknown yet potentially significant number of airports have site soils, groundwater, and/or wastewater that contain one or more per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). PFAS is used in many products, one of which is fire-suppressing aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) that commercial airports are required to use by the FAA.  While their unique chemical properties offer enhanced fire suppression capability, there is growing attention to their release into the environment.


Emerging science, increased regulatory attention, and heightened community focus are elevating PFAS issues at airports. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently issued recommendations and an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking related to PFAS, and many states are similarly moving to PFAS regulation.  As greater attention is paid to the issue, airports are faced with a growing need to address PFAS legacy environmental impacts and prevent future PFAS problems.


Research is needed to develop a resource for airports to help them understand the issues associated with PFAS and manage PFAS at their facility in an evolving regulatory environment.




The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook to help airports of various levels of activity, resources, and subject matter expertise develop a plan to manage PFAS at their facilities.  At a minimum, the guidebook should include sections targeted to planning and environmental practitioners, ARFF personnel, and senior management, and should help airports prepare a plan tailored to their unique situation and that:

  • Identifies and evaluates potential significant sources of PFAS at an airport;
  • Manages AFFF and the other sources of PFAS associated with current airport operations, including:
    • Procurement,
    • Storage,
    • Use,
    • Containment,
    • Remediation,
    • Disposal,
    • Corrective actions, and
    • Insurance considerations;
  • Addresses legacy PFAS environmental impact, including implications and options for:
    • Describing and documenting prior sources of release, uses, and their potential migration pathways and risks;
    • Testing and sampling for PFAS;
    • Onsite management of known and potentially PFAS-impacted media, including options for addressing PFAS risk in planning, design, and construction, including soil borrowing and stockpiling;
    • Risk management; and
    • Remediation;
  • Considers liability and evolving statutes and regulations, including notification requirements;
  • Prioritizes mitigation actions based on risk and resource availability;
  • Facilitates internal and external stakeholder (e.g., various airport departments, tenants, regulators, and general public) communication, collaboration, and education, including risk communication, partnerships, messaging, and training;
  • Is adaptable to account for changes in operations, regulations, technology, and practice; and
  • Includes topical references of relevant resources (e.g., audit protocols, communication strategies, testing methodologies, regulatory updates, and relevant reports).

Status: Research complete.  Publication expected in spring 2024.

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