Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and thousands of other compounds with at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom.  PFAS have been used globally during the past century in manufacturing, firefighting and thousands of common household and other consumer products.

Why are PFAS An Environmental Problem?

A graphic image depicting how PFAS moves in the environment.  PFAS can enter soil and water as a result of industrial discharges,  landfill leachate, wastewater discharge, biosolids applications to fields, and leaking septic systems.  PFAS enters the air when solid waste as a result of emissions associated with industrial activities and solid waste incineration.  We become exposed to PFAS by consuming contaminated drinking water and food, including fish caught from contaminated streams, by using products such as clothing or cosmetics that may contain PFAS, and through exposure to treated textiles such as those that have been made stain resistant.

PFAS are chemicals that are persistent in the environment (and in the human body) – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time.  Because PFAS do not fully break down, once in the environment, PFAS will continue to move or 'cycle' through a variety of media including soil, groundwater, surface water and air.  PFAS enter surface waters when PFAS containing wastewater is discharged (intentionally or accidentally) from industrial facilities, landfills, and wastewater treatment plants. Soil and groundwater contamination can occur in areas that have leaking septic systems or where PFAS-containing fertilizers, such as biosolids, have been applied to gardens and farm lands. The release of PFAS-containing fire fighting foam is also a significant source of soil and groundwater PFAS contamination.  Industrial emissions and solid waste incineration may release PFAS to the air, which can then travel long distances before eventually settling back down onto land through a process called 'atmospheric deposition' or through contaminated snow and rainwater. Fish, wildlife, and plants exposed to contaminated water and soil may themselves become contaminated with PFAS.  

How is DEEP Addressing PFAS in the Environment?

Given the magnitude of this problem, the Connecticut Interagency PFAS Task Force, which includes DEEP and other state agencies, is actively working to address PFAS in Connecticut utilizing the multi-pronged approach outlined in the Connecticut PFAS Action Plan:

  1. Minimize Environmental Exposures to Protect Human Health
  2. Prevent PFAS Pollution by Minimizing Future Releases
  3. Identify, Assess and Cleanup of Historical PFAS Releases
  4. Enhance Education, Outreach, and Communication on PFAS

Where I Can I Go to Learn More?

To learn more about PFAS in Connecticut, please visit the links below.  Questions regarding PFAS can be emailed to

General Information

Introduction to PFAS

Connecticut Interagency PFAS Task Force

Connecticut PFAS Action Plan

DEEP Public Outreach

Research and Student Opportunities

Private Drinking Water Well Testing

PFAS in Consumer Products

PFAS in Food Packaging

Artificial Turf and PFAS

Fish Testing and Advisories

Shellfish Testing

Information for Municipalities

Local Emergency Response Collaboration

PFAS in Firefighting Foam

PFAS in Biosolids

PFAS-Free Product Procurement

School Composting Guidance

Identification of Historical Release Areas

PFAS Operations and Processes

Information for Environmental Professionals

Sampling Guidance

Analytical Methods

Remediation Criteria

Drinking Water Action Levels

Significant Environmental Hazards Reporting

Disposal of PFAS-Containing Waste

DPH Environmental Lab Certification Program


Content last updated October 26, 2023