The influence of land use, water chemistry and other factors on the occurrence of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) in groundwater was examined by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researchers.

The study was based on 254 well samples collected from five aquifer networks in the eastern U.S. and tested and analyzed for 24 PFAS and other chemical constituents including trace elements and nutrients. Land use information, including sampling site proximity to urban and agricultural areas, was also considered and included in a model developed to determine the correlation between these factors and PFAS contamination.Source: Environmental Science & Technology, 2022, 56, 4, 2279–2288Source: Environmental Science & Technology, 2022, 56, 4, 2279–2288

Results published in Environmental Science & Technology identify the presence of tritium as the top predictor of PFAS in groundwater. The distance from each sampled well to fire training sites, where PFAS-containing firefighting foams are commonly used, was the second-best predictor for contamination, followed by the amount of dissolved organic carbon, which could play a role in transporting PFAS in water. Percentage of urban land use, dissolved organic carbon levels and volatile organic compound (VOC) and VOC concentrations were also important predictors of PFAS detections.

The study data, which can be accessed in the USGS National Water Information System, could be of value in developing models to predict regions at high risk for PFAS contamination.

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