Perfluoroalkyl acids in sediment and water surrounding historical fire training areas at Barksdale Air Force Base

Rebecca S. Wilkinson, Heather A. Lanza, Adric D. Olson, Joseph F. Mudge, Christopher J. Salice, Todd A. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are environmentally persistent components of surfactants that consist of fully fluorinated carbon chains and a terminal sulfonate or carboxylate polar head moiety. Due to their unique amphiphilic properties, PFAAs are used in the manufacturing of products such as aqueous film forming foams (AFFF). There is cause for concern for PFAA contamination resulting from runoff and groundwater infiltration of AFFF that were used during fire training. This study analyzed water and sediment samples that were collected over a 13-month sampling period from bayous upstream and downstream of two former fire training areas located near Barksdale Air Force Base (BAFB); the occurrence and magnitude of PFAAs supported an aquatic ecological risk assessment of potential impacts of PFAAs at the site. Liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry was used for determination of 6 PFAAs listed under the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 3). Total PFAA concentrations in surface water and sediment samples ranged from 0 (ND) −7.1 ng/mL and 0 (ND) −31.4 ng/g, respectively. Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) were the predominant PFAAs detected. In general, perfluorosulfonates were quantified more frequently and at higher concentrations than perfluorocarboxylates. The perfluoroalkyl chain length of PFAAs also showed significant influence on PFAA concentrations when analyzed by Spearman's rank correlation analysis. Some contamination we observed in surface water and sediment samples from reference locations could be a result of local runoff from the use of commercial products containing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), but AFFF appears to be the primary source given the close proximity of the historical fire training areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13054
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Aqueous film forming foams (AFFFs)
  • PFAS
  • Perfluoroalkyl acids
  • Sediment
  • Surface water


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