Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) Exposure Through Munitions in Russia-Ukraine Conflict
By Lauren A Koban and Andrew R Pfluger
Integr Environ Assess Manag
August 19, 2022
Considered contaminants of emerging concern, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of toxic, manufactured chemicals found in commercial and consumer products such as nonstick cookware, food packaging, and firefighting foams. Human exposure to PFAS through inhalation and ingestion can cause a variety of harmful effects and negative health outcomes. PFAS possess high polarity and chemical stability, enabling them to resist degradation in most environmental conditions. These characteristics allow PFAS to be mobile in soil, air, and water, and bioaccumulate in living organisms. Due to their thermally resistant chemical properties, PFAS are used as binders in plastic/polymer-bonded explosives (PBX) and in various components of munitions. Thus, when munitions are detonated, PFAS are released into the environment as aerosols and can deposit in the soil, surface water, or biota. Air emission modeling suggests that ground-level and airborne detonation of munitions can increase PFAS deposition both locally and long-range. Further, if industrial facilities with PFAS are damaged or destroyed, there is greater potential for environmental degradation from increased release of PFAS into the environment. Due to their persistent nature, PFAS can remain in an environment long after armed conflict, indirectly impacting ecosystems, food sources, and human health. The toxic contamination from munitions could present a greater hazard to a larger population over time than acute detonation events. This paper discusses methods for estimating war-related damage from PFAS by exploring predictive modeling approaches and post-war ground validation techniques. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.© 2022 The Authors. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry (SETAC).