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UArizona studies how PFAS travels to groundwater

Posted at 5:27 PM, Aug 01, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A $1.3 million study is underway at the University of Arizona to learn more about how PFAS enters the ground and contaminates water to effort remediation.

In Tucson, those chemicals are connected to firefighting foam.

“It’s a really big issue and we are starting to tackle this particular problem of PFAS being present in soils due to the many decades of the use of PFAS in almost every aspect of our life and also at the military sites,” said Bo Guo, principle investigator.

Researchers said the concern lies in the potential long-term impacts of PFAS— relating to water availability and safe drinking water.

While Guo said toxicological research is still ongoing, one thing is clear--the chemicals can impact health.

"Exposure to PFAS at very low concentrations has been linked to a variety of adverse health effects of human beings, including birth defects, and cancer," he said.

Guo said the team plans to collect samples from the Davis-Monthan contamination site.

“What we're trying to do is develop a computer model that we can actually, simulate how the PFAS are being migrated down through the soils, into the groundwater, over time. So, that then we can make decisions,” said Guo.

Decisions about remediation and managing the amount of PFAS entering the ground.

Researchers hope the findings will be used locally and universally.

“And be able to apply it at various kinds of contamination sites, including firefighting impacted areas, as well as other sites," said GUO

The study is in the beginning stages and will last until 2024.