Region 1: North Atlantic-Appalachian PFAS Capability Team

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Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of anthropogenic emerging contaminants. Some PFAS have been voluntarily phased out, as exposure has been linked to adverse human health effects.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of emerging contaminants that includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), hexafluoropropylene oxide-dimer acid (more commonly known as GenX®), and many other compounds.

USGS technician, blue coolers, soil, mask, vegetation

USGS Hydrologic Technician assisting with the collection of soil and worm samples in an area on Cape Cod impacted by PFAS contamination.

(Credit: Andrea Tokranov, US Geological Survey. Public domain.)

Since the 1940s, PFAS have been manufactured and used around the globe, including in the United States, in a variety of industries such as firefighting foam for flammable liquids. These chemicals are very persistent in the environment, and some PFAS are known to accumulate over time in the human body and in the food chain. Exposure to some PFAS has been linked to adverse human and ecosystem health effects.

PFAS-containing firefighting foams have been widely used at military installations, petroleum refineries, chemical manufacturing plants, civilian airports and fire-training facilities. PFAS are also found in a wide range of consumer products such as cookware, fast-food wrappers and containers, and stain and water repellents, and can lead to human exposure. PFAS are also widely used in a variety of industrial products such as paint, detergents, waxes, and metal plating solution. The most-studied PFAS chemicals are PFOA and PFOS. Studies have linked PFOS and PFOA to numerous health effects including reproductive, developmental, liver, endocrine, and immunological effects. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animals. PFOA, PFOS, perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and other PFAS have been found in a number of drinking water systems in the Northeast.

 

 

Scientist in laboratory working in anaerobic chamber

USGS scientist preparing a PFAS biodegradation microcosm to mimic a simplified ecosystem in the Fate and Bioremediation Laboratory at the MD-DE-DC Water Science Center.

(Credit: Michelle Lorah, US Geological Survey. Public domain.)

 

There are numerous large PFAS-contaminated groundwater plumes and impacted surface water bodies throughout the Northeast Atlantic-Appalachian Region (NAAR). Water availability can be impacted by contamination. PFAS contamination in the NAAR has a high likelihood to impact drinking water and human health in these densely populated areas, where water supplies are already stressed.

The scope of PFAS contamination in the US is extensive. USGS development of field methods, assessment of water quality and ecosystem effects, and research findings on PFAS, including fate and transport processes and viable techniques for site remediation, will support federal, state, and local site managers, regulatory agencies, and private remediation firms.

NAAR region map pfas projects

NAAR Regional Map of PFAS Projects listed with Map IDs.

(Alex Fiore, U.S. Geological Survey, Public domain.)

 

 
 Map ID Location Project Description Website Contact
1 North Bennington, VT Groundwater Age of Private Domestic Wells Contaminated with PFAS in Vermont Collaboration with the state of Vermont to estimate age distributions of groundwater from private domestic wells containing PFAS. Age tracer models were correlated with PFAS, revealing that wells with larger fractions of younger water generally had higher PFAS concentrations. Vermont PFOA Contamination James Shanley,
USGS New England WSC, jshanley@usgs.gov
Joseph Ayotte, 
USGS New England WSC, jayotte@usgs.gov
2 Joint Base Cape Cod, MA Joint Base Cape Cod PFAS Fate & Transport Study explores the persistence and transport of PFAS that originated from both firefighting and domestic wastewater sources in Cape Cod, along with  precursors, temporal trends, diverse contaminant mixtures, groundwater discharge ecosystem buffers, sewage effects and fish impacts.  PFAS in Groundwater for Decades Andrea Tokranov, USGS New England WSC, atokranov@usgs.gov;  Denis LeBlanc,
USGS New England WSC, dleblanc@usgs.gov; Larry Barber, USGS Water Mission Area, lbbarber@usgs.gov
3 Long Island, NY Long Island, New York- PFAS Occurrence & Distribution Monitoring PFAS occurrence and distribution in groundwater monitoring wells. 2018 shallow (<100ft) groundwater monitoring study found PFOA & PFOS concentrations are below the EPA health advisory of 70 ng/L for drinking water. The current study includes monitoring wells that are deeper and screened in the drinking water aquifer.  Monitoring of Groundwater on Long Island & Groundwater Quality of Nassau County Irene Fisher,
USGS NY WSC,
ifisher@usgs.gov
4 Long Island, NY Suffolk County, Long Island, NY - Fate of PFAS within wastewater treatment plants This study evaluates the removal efficiency of organic contaminants at select decentralized wastewater treatment plants and quantifies the amount of contamination discharged by the plant to either shallow groundwater or a surface water body. The analysis includes 28 PFAS.    Irene Fisher,
USGS NY WSC, ifisher@usgs.gov
5 Bronx River, NYC, NY Preliminary quantification of PFAS in the Bronx River, NY Assessment of PFAS, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides in stream water samples during baseflow and stormflow. The data provides local managers baseline data to support continued restoration efforts and to aid in identification of sources for management of PFAS Urban Waters Federal Partnership Cooperative Matching Funds Irene Fisher,
USGS NY WSC, ifisher@usgs.gov
6 Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst, NJ PFAS technical assistance at Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst A MODLOW6 groundwater flow model is in development to estimate migration pathways of PFAS within groundwater at JBMDL. In addition, a gain/loss study is evaluating the potential for PFAS found in two lakes near JBMDL to flow out of the surface water and enter the underlying aquifer that supplies drinking water to the area. New Jersey Water Science Center studies in cooperation with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center. Joint Base MDL Base-wide PFAS Assessment Alex Fiore,
USGS NJ WSC,
afiore@usgs.gov
7 West Trenton, NJ Naval Air Force Warfare Center (NAWC) Trenton PFAS assessments The New Jersey Water Science Center provides technical assistance to the U.S. Navy at the NAWC site regarding PFAS contamination associated with aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) use in the 1980s. Since 2015, the occurrence and distribution of PFAS has been monitored and assessed. PFOS concentrations as high as 26,000 nanograms per liter (ng/L) and PFOA concentrations as high as 2,000 ng/L have been found in groundwater.  Contaminant Fate & Transport at NAWC, NJ Alex Fiore,
USGS NJ WSC, afiore@usgs.gov
8 Delaware River Basin, New Jersey PFAS Passive Sampler Evaluation in New Jersey Groundwater An evaluation of passive sampling methods for PFAS is being conducted using regenerated cellulose dialysis membrane (RCDM) and commercially available EON Dual Membrane® (DM) passive samplers that were deployed concurrently in 27 long-term monitoring wells throughout the Delaware River Basin in New Jersey and at 2 wells at Naval Air Warfare Center base in Trenton, NJ, in cooperation with USGS Next Generation Water Observing System Delaware River Basin. Samples are collected by conventional purge methods upon retrieval of the passive samplers in cooperation with NJ Ambient Surface Water Quality Monitoring Network for analysis of PFAS as well as nutrients, major ions, pesticides, VOCs, filtered trace elements, DOC, gross alpha and beta radioactivity. Passive Sampling of Groundwater Wells for Determination of Water Chemistry Heather Heckathorn, USGS NJ WSC,  haheck@usgs.gov
- State of New Jersey New Jersey Ambient Surface-Water-Quality Network New Jersey Water Science Center, in cooperation with NJ Department of Environmental Protection, is collecting discrete surface-water samples of PFAS as part of the NJ Ambient Surface Water Quality Monitoring Network, as a synoptic of 123 sites twice per year targeting baseflow and elevated streamflow conditions. Laboratory analysis includes 28 PFAS compounds. New Jersey Ambient Surface-Water-Quality Monitoring Network Heather Heckathorn, USGS NJ WSC,  haheck@usgs.gov;
Anna Boetsma,
USGS NJ WSC, 
aboetsma@usgs.gov
- State of New Jersey New Jersey Ambient Groundwater Quality Monitoring Network New Jersey Water Science Center, in cooperation with NJ Department of Environmental Protection, annually collects groundwater samples for PFAS and nutrients, major ions, pesticides, VOCs, filtered trace elements, DOC, gross alpha and beta radioactivity by conventional-purge methods at 50 long-term monitoring wells as part of the cooperative NJ Ambient Groundwater Quality Monitoring Network. New Jersey Ambient Groundwater-Quality Monitoring Network Heather Heckathorn, USGS NJ WSC,  haheck@usgs.gov; Anna Boetsma, USGS NJ WSC,  aboetsma@usgs.gov
9 Willow Grove and Warminster, PA Regional Flow Paths of PFAS-Contaminated Groundwater at Willow Grove and Warminster, Pennsylvania PFAS detected in wells near Willow Grove and Warminster Bases in 2014, leading to shutdown of 5 public supply wells and additional wells later. This study will improve the understanding of groundwater flow rates and directions by developing a preliminary numerical groundwater-flow model and help identify data gaps and selection of additional monitoring locations. Contaminants in Groundwater near former PA Navy Bases Joe Duris,
USGS PA WSC, jwduris@usgs.gov; Lisa Senior,
USGS PA WSC, lasenior@usgs.gov
- State of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Water Science Center (PA WSC) - Measurement of PFAS in Surface Waters  The Pennsylvania Water Science Center is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and experts across the Nation to develop and implement rigorous and innovative techniques to detect PFAS at concentrations as low as parts per trillion to help the public understand the spatial distribution and magnitude of PFAS contamination within the environment. Hydrologic and Water Quality Studies of PFAS in Pennsylvania Joe Duris,
USGS PA WSC, jwduris@usgs.gov
10 (A) Joint Base Andrews, MD & (B) Willow Grove, PA Effects of PFAS Exposure in Tree Swallows The Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) and Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) are examining both exposure to and possible effects such as immune and health effects of PFAS in tree swallows at two Department of Defense sites (Joint Base Andrews & Willow Grove), with Patuxent Research Refuge as a background site. Immune System Changes in Birds Exposed to Environmental Contaminants Christine Custer, UMESC, ccuster@usgs.gov; Natalie Karouna-Renier,
PWRC, nkarouna@usgs.gov
11 Antietam Creek, MD PFAS Exposure and Effects in Smallmouth Bass Smallmouth bass in Antietam Creek, MD were found to have high levels of PFAS. Further studies on immune health of PFAS-exposed smallmouth bass are being conducted. Forever Chemicals Found in Chesapeake Fish Vicki Blazer, USGS Leetown SC, vblazer@usgs.gov
12 Baltimore, MD PFAS Biotransformation and Effect of Chlorinated Organic Co-Contaminants  Investigation of natural and enhanced biotransformation of PFAS and co-contaminants and associated changes in microbial communities. Experiments utilize sediment samples from areas of groundwater discharge to streams at multiple contaminated sites and comparisons with an established dechlorinating culture.  Conducted under the Environmental Health Program, Ecosystems.       Michelle M. Lorah, MD/DE/DC WSC, 
mmlorah@usgs.gov;
Denise Akob,
USGS Geology, Energy & Minerals SC,
dakob@usgs.gov
12 Baltimore, MD PFAS Fate and Transport Processes in a Physical Aquifer Model Testing with a one-fifth scale physical aquifer model to evaluate sorption and transport of PFAS under continuous and pulse sources.  SERDP Limited Scope project, led by US Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District, in collaboration with USGS MD-DE-DC Water Science Center and University of Maryland Baltimore County.   Ethan Weikel,
USGS MD/DE/DC WSC, weikel@usgs.gov
13 Chesapeake Bay, MD PFAS in Maryland Stormwater Controls PFAS analysis in wet pond sediment as part of a USGS Chesapeake Bay Studies project in collaboration with Maryland Department of Environment. Sediment will be analyzed from over 60 wet ponds across different land uses (old residential, new residential, commercial, industrial) across Maryland.   Emily Majcher,
USGS MD/DE/DC WSC, emajcher@usgs.gov
- Delaware PFAS in Delaware Drinking Water Source water assessment of Delaware public water supplies that included sampling 30 wells for PFAS.   Batzaida Reyes,
USGS MD/DE/DC WSC, breyes@usgs.gov
14 Shenandoah River, VA Accumulated Wastewater Ratio (ACCWW) Modeling Refinement of the existing national-scale “de facto reuse incidence in our nation’s consumable supply” (DRINCS) model, complemented by field measurements, provides a screening tool to understand human and wildlife exposure to toxicants, including PFAS, and pathogens associated with the incidental reuse of treated wastewater in the Shenandoah River watershed. Understanding Exposure to Contaminants from Wastewater Reuse Larry Barber,
USGS Water Mission Area, lbbarber@usgs.gov Jennifer Rapp
USGS V/WV WSC, jrapp@usgs.gov
- State of West Virginia PFAS in the State of West Virgina The Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center is working with the state of West Virginia to identify PFAS contamination in West Virginia's public source water supplies.   Mitch McAdoo,
USGS V/WV WSC, mmcadoo@usgs.gov
- Great Lakes Basin Great Lake Restoration: Toxic Substances and Areas of Concern Selected tributaries of the Great Lakes Basin collected sediment and water samples using Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers (POCIS) passive samplers including a few selected streams draining Department of Defense (DOD) facilities and airports. Toxic Substances in Great Lakes & POCIS Samplers Steve Corsi,
USGS Upper Midwest WSC, 
srcorsi@usgs.gov 
- Western Ohio Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Monitoring (western Ohio) Project includes surface water sampling and measuring ground water vectors using horizontal flow-meters. Funded by Air Force Civil Engineering Center (AFCEC).   Randall Bayless,
USGS OH/KY/IN WSC,   ebayless@usgs.gov
- National- United States Environmental Health Program, Ecosystems, National Tap Water Project Study to provide information on contaminant exposure from tap water at 26 locations including public and private supplies. Public-supply tap water generally met enforceable standards for those compounds with standards. Samples consisted of contaminant mixtures that are not commonly monitored and for which the health risks are unknown, including PFAS. Pilot Study Provides Information on Contaminant Exposure from Tap Water in the US Paul Bradley,
USGS South Atlantic WSC, pbradley@usgs.gov; Kelly Smalling,
USGS NJ WSC, ksmall@usgs.gov
- National- United States PFAS detected in Source Waters and Treated Public Water Supplies This study, which measured 17 per- and polyfuoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in source and treated public water supplies from 25 drinking water facilities as part of a broader study of contaminants in drinking water across the United States, reports that PFASs were detected in all source water and public water supply samples collected. One sample exceeded the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water health advisory that applies to two of the compounds measured. PFAS in Sorce and Treated Public Water Ed Furlong,
USGS Water Mission Area,
efurlong@usgs.gov