Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

What are PFAS?
Firefighting Foam
Known PFAS Sources
Toxicity and Health Effects
PFAS Resources
Connecticut PFAS History
PFAS Task Force

What are PFAS?

Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances are a group of over 4,000 manmade chemicals, collectively referred to as PFAS, that have recently entered the national spotlight as emerging contaminants with serious adverse impacts on human health, even at low concentrations in the parts per trillion range.

Firefighting Foam

Inforgraphic regarding firefighting foam deadlines for usage and PFAS-free alternative.

Public Act 21-191,  An Act Concerning the Use of Perfluoroalkyl or Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Class B Firefighting Foam

Other alternative Class B fluorine-free firefighting foams have been certified by GreenScreen® For Safer Chemicals - GreenScreen CertifiedTM  Firefighting Foams

Extensions for Class B PFAS Firefighting Foam Use are available for certain facilities.

DEEP and the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) are implementing the take-back and safe disposal of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) containing PFAS from state and municipal fire departments.

Guidance Update: Draining and Rinsing AFFF from Municipal Onboard Systems (May 2022)
DEEP in cooperation with the State Commission on Fire Prevention & Control has issued updated guidance regarding the Draining and Rinsing of AFFF from Municipal Fire Apparatus Onboard Foam Systems. This guidance is voluntary and developed as to help prevent the accidental discharge of foam containing PFAS into the environment.

Known PFAS Sources

PFAS have been manufactured and used worldwide since the 1940s. Due to their chemical stability, heat resistance, and ability to repel oil and water, PFAS are used in thousands of consumer products and industrial processes. The known sources of PFAS include:

  • Nonstick cookware
  • Grease-resistant and waterproof coatings on food packaging (e.g., popcorn bags, takeout containers, and fast food wrappers)
  • Coated paper products
  • Waterproof, water-resistant, and stain-resistant textiles (e.g., clothing, shoes, upholstery, and carpets)
  • Cosmetics and personal care products
  • Industrial and household cleaning products
  • Floor, car, and boat waxes
  • Engineered coatings used in semiconductor production
  • Metal plating and finishing
  • Etching of metals, plastics, and glass
  • Plastics, resins, and rubber products
  • Surface coating, paint, varnish, and inks
  • Cable and wire insulation for electronics
  • Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) used to extinguish flammable liquid fires
  • Biosolids

PFAS are not naturally found in the environment. However, because these substances are highly mobile in water and air, they spread throughout the environment easily and can contaminate soil, groundwater, and surface water.  Since PFAS are not broken down by natural processes, they persist in the environment indefinitely.      

Toxicity and Health Effects

Research on the human health and ecological impacts of PFAS is rapidly evolving.  Some PFAS have been proven to bioaccumulate (accumulate within the body) in animals and humans when ingested.  Certain PFAS have been linked to health risks including developmental effects in fetuses and infants, various forms of cancer, and decreased liver, thyroid, and immune system function.

DPH PFAS webpage

DPH Drinking Water Section PFAS webpage

EPA PFAS webpage

ATSDR PFAS webpage

PFAS Resources




Other States
Analytic Methods
  • EPA Method 537.1 – drinking water
  • ASTM D7968-17a Standard Test Method for Determination of Polyfluorinated Compounds in Soil by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS)
  • ASTM D7979-17  Standard Test Method for Determination of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Water, Sludge, Influent, Effluent and Wastewater by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS)

The Remediation Standard Regulations do not contain numeric cleanup standards for emerging contaminants, but do require remediation using the procedures for Additional Polluting Substances (APS).  APS Criteria for PFAS have been developed and are available for use upon request.

Connecticut PFAS History

  • DEEP is planning to conduct initial testing at about one-third of the state’s wastewater treatment plants.  This proposed testing will include analysis of influent to and effluent from the treatment facilities.
  • As of August 2020, DEEP and the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) have begun planning for the take-back and safe disposal of (AFFF) containing PFAS from state and municipal fire departments.
  • July 2020 – DEEP issues RFP to vendors on existing DAS Contract (18PSX0153) seeking consultants with specialized experience sampling for PFAS in drinking water and other matrices to support future DEEP directed PFAS investigation.
  • July 21, 2020 – DEEP awarded $2 million during Special Meeting of the State Bond Commission to implement an AFFF take-back program for AFFF and to conduct laboratory analysis of drinking water samples for PFAS and to supply bottled water and carbon filtration systems to impacted residences as interim measures to protect human health.
  • Summer 2020 - DEEP began developing a Geographic Information System (GIS) project specific to potential PFAS sources for use as a tool to evaluate the vulnerability of sensitive receptors, including drinking water supplies and surface water bodies, to PFAS pollution.  This GIS project will assist DEEP and DPH in prioritizing future regional site investigations throughout the state.
  • Winter-Summer 2020 – DEEP and DESPP continue evaluation of fluorine-free firefighting foams/products in anticipation of future state and municipal aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) Take-Back program.
  • Due to the Westchester PFAS detections, DEEP and DPH lead sampling events and coordinate with the local health department to lead public outreach in Greenwich.  Elevated levels of PFAS above the DPH Drinking Water Action Level are detected in one private well.
  • DPH requires 80 large public water systems to perform land use risk assessments evaluating their water supply sources’ vulnerability to PFAS contamination.
  • DEEP and the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) form a committee to evaluate and select PFAS-free alternatives to AFFF firefighting foam.
  • NY state officials notify DPH of PFAS groundwater contamination in Westchester County, NY, near the Westchester County Airport.
  • DEEP Remediation Division conducts outreach to Remediation Roundtable on PFAS, requesting that PFAS be addressed as a contaminant of concern at sites where warranted based on past site history and operations.

  • DPH establishes a Drinking Water Action Level of 70 ppt for the summed concentrations of five PFAS compounds: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA), and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS).
  • DEEP and DPH staff begin to collaborate on PFAS.
  • EPA-mandated testing confirms that none of Connecticut’s large public drinking water systems (i.e., systems serving >10,000 people) contain elevated levels of PFAS above EPA reporting limits at that time. 

Contaminants of Emerging Concern

Content last updated June 15, 2022