The Colorado School of Mines is a global leader with respect to understanding and addressing the environmental impacts of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), also known as “forever chemicals.” The presence of PFASs in the environment is a major global challenge, particularly for U.S. government agencies such as the Department of Defense (DoD). Hundreds of DoD installations have groundwater with PFAS levels well above federal health advisory levels due to extensive use of firefighting foams containing these substances.
Mines’ faculty and students are at the forefront of charactering the environmental behavior of PFASs, how humans are exposed to PFASs, and developing treatment technologies for PFAS-impacted soils and drinking water. Working at the molecular scale to the aquifer scale, the Mines’ scientists and engineers are advancing remediation and treatment strategies for difficult-to-treat matrices, evaluating the fate and transport of PFASs at foam-impacted sites, investigating PFAS interactions with biological systems, and modelling molecular-scale PFAS behavior. This research is currently funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and many others. Faculty and students in the Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemistry, and Geology and Geological Engineering departments are leading Mines’ effort.
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Accurately predicting the long-term impacts of PFAS-contaminated groundwater and soil is a critical need for sites where PFASs have been released.
PFAS scientists and engineers at Mines are working to identify technologies to remediate water and soil as well as challenging PFAS contamination scenarios and matrices.
Working to characterize how and when humans are exposed to PFASs, either through historical impacts to drinking water, contamination of food supplies or human exposure to PFASs via other means.