PFAS Frequently Asked Questions

The most commonly asked questions about the Department’s response to PFAS cleanup are displayed and answered on this page.


Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a large class of chemicals found in many consumer products, as well as in industrial products such as certain firefighting foam called aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). PFAS is also found in essential use applications such as in microelectronics, batteries and medical equipment.

The Department of Defense (DoD) is taking a number of actions to address PFAS, such as researching an alternative to PFAS-containing firefighting foam, addressing PFAS releases related to past DoD activities under federal cleanup laws, investing in research and development to support these efforts, and engaging with the public on PFAS concerns. PFAS remains a complex national issue and many federal and state agencies are working together to address it. DoD frequently publishes reports and briefings to the DoD PFAS website to keep the public informed of its efforts to identify and address DoD’s PFAS releases.

Protecting the health of our personnel, their families, and the communities in which we serve is a priority for the Department. In 2019, the Secretary of Defense established a PFAS Task Force to provide strategic leadership and direction and ensure a coordinated, aggressive, and holistic approach to DoD-wide efforts to address PFAS. The Task Force has issued numerous PFAS-related guidance documents to implement statutory requirements as well as ensure DoD is approaching PFAS in a consistent manner across the Military Departments. Under the guidance of the Task Force, the Department has made notable progress in addressing a range of PFAS issues. These include ensuring safe drinking water on installations, the development of an alternative to PFAS-containing firefighting foam, addressing PFAS releases related to past DoD activities under the federal cleanup law, substantial investment in research and development to support these efforts, and has expanded outreach and engagement with the public.

DoD provides the status of its PFAS investigations across over 700 installations and National Guard facilities quarterly on the DoD PFAS website here. In addition, final testing results for PFAS or planned PFAS testing in off-base drinking water is available on the DoD PFAS website here.

 The Department posts PFAS drinking water results and planned sampling events within covered areas on DoD’s PFAS website and provides advanced notification of any sampling events to managers of public water systems, heads of the municipal government, and Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) community members, as applicable. In compliance with the federal cleanup law, DoD coordinates sampling plans with environmental regulators in affected communities.

DoD’s estimated cost to investigate and clean up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 and beyond is $9.7 billion (estimate as of the end of FY 2023). This is a preliminary estimate that DoD expects will increase significantly as the ongoing investigations are completed and more information is known about the extent of the cleanup required. In general, the Department cannot estimate how long it will take or how much it will cost to completely address its PFAS releases until it knows the extent of those releases. The Department will be able to provide better estimates as the ongoing investigations are completed over the next few years.

PFAS is found in everyday consumer items - from nonstick cookware to water-resistant clothing. PFAS is also found in essential use applications such as in microelectronics, batteries and medical equipment. Reports indicate most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS and have PFAS in their blood. Health monitoring studies show PFAS is most prominently detected in workers associated with manufacturing activities and in communities with elevated levels of PFAS in their drinking water. Current scientific research suggests that exposure to high levels of certain PFAS may lead to adverse health outcomes such as reproductive effects (e.g., decreased fertility) and increased risk of some cancers, but it is unclear what health effects are associated with low levels of exposure to PFAS. Additional information regarding PFAS exposure can be found on the EPA website (https://www.epa.gov/pfas) and on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website (https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/). The science on PFAS is evolving. There is extensive research being done to determine where PFAS exist and what impact they have on human health and the environment.

Several years ago, DoD stopped using AFFF on its installations for testing or training unless it is fully contained and appropriately disposed. While AFFF continues to be used for emergency purposes, DoD is taking action to fully transition from AFFF to PFAS-free firefighting solutions for all land-based applications. As of October 2023, the Department stopped purchasing AFFF for land-based applications.

Over the last few years, the Department undertook a significant initiative to test and demonstrate fluorine-free foams (F3) to replace AFFF. The Department began the transition to F3 in September 2023 and F3 is already in use at some DoD installations. The Department plans to replace AFFF with F3 alternatives in more than 6,000 mobile assets and approximately 1,500 facilities. DoD is also evaluating available technologies, in addition to alternative F3 agents, to replace current AFFF systems in facilities. Based on the Military Department’s transition schedules for AFFF replacement, the Department will need to invoke the two one-year waivers to extend the current October 1, 2024, statutory deadline to cease AFFF use. These extensions will ensure a methodical transition that does not compromise the safety of DoD’s activities and require DoD to complete this transition by October 2026.

Across the Department of Defense, we estimate the need to remove over 2 million gallons of AFFF concentrate - that is across all facilities (e.g., aircraft hangers) and mobile assets (e.g., firefighting trucks).

The new Fluorine Free Foams (F3) are engineered to put out large fuel fires without the use of PFOS, PFOA, or other PFAS compounds. DoD has invested considerable time, effort, and funding partnering with academia and industry on F3s, and independently reviewing the best available science to be sure that F3s meet performance needs, pose no known threat to human health, and are not persistent in the environment. While toxicity studies will evolve over time, we considered and screened F3s for hazards to people and the environment. The new F3s will allow us to protect our personnel and communities from fire threats without the human health and environmental concerns associated with PFAS.

Yes. DoD is identifying the best technologies to characterize, treat, and manage PFAS impacted sites. DoD has invested over $160M through Fiscal Year 2022 with another $60M planned through FY2025 and supports over 200 technology development and demonstration projects that advance the detection, investigation, cleanup, and destruction of PFAS. DoD will award 16 projects by Fall of 2023. DoD is committed to the continued advancement of these technologies and has several field demonstrations planned in FY23 to evaluate technologies. For more information on SERDP’s and ESTCP’s efforts on treatment methodologies, including a summary of the in situ and ex situ remedial approaches that are currently being developed click here.

DoD remains committed to fulfilling our PFAS-related cleanup responsibilities and will take necessary actions to implement the rule, in accordance with the federal cleanup law. The Department has reviewed existing PFAS sampling results, will be expanding existing cleanup investigations, assessing "background" levels of PFAS, and providing drinking water treatment for impacted off-base wells, on a prioritized basis.

Since a significant number of additional wells will require treatment, DoD will first prioritize locations where known levels of PFAS in drinking water from DoD activities are the highest. To expedite implementation of more enduring solutions, the DoD will focus on installing treatment systems, such as whole house drinking water filters.

DoD is committed to taking care of our people and the communities in which we serve. A significant number of additional locations will require treatment to reduce PFAS levels in drinking water to address the new levels. To expedite implementation of more enduring solutions, the DoD will focus on installing treatment systems, such as whole house filters. In addition, DoD will prioritize addressing off-base private drinking water wells at installations, where known PFAS levels in drinking water are the highest. DoD believes this is the best approach for the long-term protection of human health and the environment.

The Department supports EPA's development of a nationwide drinking water standard for PFAS that applies to everyone. If the courts delay implementation of the rule, the Department would need to evaluate the options available to us at that point in time.

Yes. DoD is now focusing on taking interim cleanup actions to prevent further PFAS migration off base. DoD will have initiated interim actions at over 40 installations by the end of this year and plans to take additional actions as more information becomes available from our ongoing investigations.