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Potential Impacts of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) on State Transportation Agency Construction Projects and Maintenance Operations


PFAS are a group of manmade fluorinated chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries since the 1940’s. PFAS are persistent in the environment and the human body, and there is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health effects as well as ecological risks. PFAS are considered to be contaminants of emerging concerns, with regulatory standards that are evolving due to new science, detection capabilities, and transport pathways. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued Health Advisories at parts per trillion levels in drinking water for two PFAS compounds (PFOA, PFOS), and many State Environmental Agencies are regulating additional PFAS compounds as well as lowering groundwater standards for PFOA and PFOS. Without Federal Maximum Contaminant Level standards for PFAS compounds, States have regulated various PFAS compounds at varying standards. Many of the States regulating PFAS in drinking water have just as stringent standards for groundwater. Additionally, large industrial PFAS air deposition areas exist, with no Federal guidance yet on soil leaching standards, leaving Transportation Agencies to evaluate the risk and liability of relocating PFAS-impacted soil.

DOT agencies like New Hampshire DOT are, or will likely be, navigating problems pertaining to PFAS due to the following situations: DOT owned legacy sites with PFAS impact; road construction and improvement through soil in areas with PFAS aerial deposition; increased assessment and analytical cost for soils to be graded, cut, or excavated; storage and disposal of spoil materials from road way maintenance in areas with PFAS aerial deposition; and, PFAS impact in dewatered construction groundwater and the requisite parts per trillion treatment goals.


A Research Project is needed to document the status of PFAS regulation, various aspects of the impacts of PFAS on Transportation Agencies and provide a reference document for Transportation Agencies.


The scope based on the available information in the literature should include:

(1) A brief overview of PFAS chemistry, nomenclature, properties, industrial development and applications;

(2) A status of the U.S. and international regulatory environment for PFAS as it pertains to Transportation Agencies, particularly in light of EPA PFAS Action Plan (February 2019);

(3) A summary of products used by Transportation Agencies which are known or suspected to contain PFAS;

(4) A survey of historical and current practices regarding the procurement, storage, use, removal and disposal of PFAS-containing products and soil material;

(5) Transportation agency guidance for the procurement, storage, use, removal and disposal of PFAS-containing products and soil material;

(6) Assessment of replacements to PFAS-containing products;

(7) A screening tool to determine potential areas of concern for PFAS during the NEPA process;

(8) Quality assurance considerations for sampling and analysis for PFAS;

(9) Guidance for geotechnical explorations in known or suspected PFAS-impacted areas;

(10) Disposal or relocation and treatment options for waste construction water or soil impacted by PFAS;

(11) On-site remediation technology options for PFAS-impacted Construction dewatering and migration in soil for various PFAS compounds; and

(12) Recommendations for further research related to PFAS and Transportation Agency Practices.

Sponsoring Committee:AMS20, Resource Conservation and Recovery
Research Period:6 - 12 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:Cyrus Parker
Source Info:• TRB ADC60 Committee on Resource Conservation and Recovery, Cyrus Parker, Chair
• TRB AFP40 Committee on GeoEnvironmental Processes, Angel Palomino, Chair
• TRB AV030 Committee on Environmental Impacts of Aviation, Jennifer Salerno, Chair
• Federal Aviation Administration, Michael Lamprecht
• New Hampshire DOT, Kevin Nyhan
• North Carolina DOT, Cyrus Parker
Date Posted:02/18/2019
Date Modified:02/26/2019
Index Terms:Contaminants, Soil pollution, Water pollution, Polyfluoroalkyl substances, Perfluorocarbons, Road construction, Highway maintenance,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Maintenance and Preservation

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