Acute Toxicity of Eight Aqueous Film-Forming Foams to 14 Aquatic Species

By Devin K Jones, Kathryn A Quinlin, Maggie A Wigren, Youn J Choi, Maria S SepĂșlveda, Linda S Lee, David L Haskins, Guilherme R Lotufo, Alan Kennedy, Lauren May, Ashley Harmon, Thomas Biber, Nicolas Melby, Michael K Chanov, Michelle L Hudson, Peter B Key, Katy W Chung, David W Moore, Jamie G Suski, Edward F Wirth, and Jason T Hoverman
Environ Sci Technol
May 2, 2022
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.1c03776

Researchers have developed numerous per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)-free aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) formulations to replace PFAS-containing AFFF used for fire suppression. As part of the Department of Defense's Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), we examined the direct lethal effects of seven PFAS-free AFFF and a PFAS-containing AFFF on 14 aquatic species using a series of lethal concentration (LC50) tests. We assessed the LC10, LC50, and LC90 values using log-logistic and logit analyses. Across all aquatic species tested, we discovered that exposure to at least one PFAS-free AFFF was more or as toxic as exposure to the PFAS-containing AFFF. For most cases, National Foam Avio F3 Green KHC 3% and Buckeye Platinum Plus C6MILSPEC 3% were the most and least toxic formulations, respectively. Moreover, we found consistency among results from multiple experiments using the same minnow species () and among closely related taxa (e.g., daphnids, amphibians). Lastly, the LC50 values for AFFF formulations trended lower for tested marine species as compared to those of freshwater species. These results dramatically increase the current knowledge on the potentially toxic effects of AFFF but also highlight the need for additional research and the development of new PFAS-free AFFF that are more "ecologically friendly" than those containing persistent PFAS.

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