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Flushing Home Plumbing Pipes Contaminated with Aqueous Film-Forming Foam Containing Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

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APTIM Authors/Contributors

  • Sue Witt, Senior Engineer
  • Nicole Sojda, Environmental Scientist
  • Don Schupp, Project Manager


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) can be accidentally backflushed into drinking water systems during firefighting operations or at industrial facilities. If this contaminated water enters household plumbing systems, homeowners may need to decontaminate their plumbing. This study examines the persistence of PFAS from AFFF on home plumbing, along with the effects of flushing and stagnation. Two sources of AFFF were investigated, representing older formulations (that contain longer chain PFAS) and newer formulations (that contain shorter chain PFAS). Experiments were conducted in copper, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) pipes with flushing after contamination followed by intermittent flow and periods of stagnation meant to mimic typical household use. Flushing immediately reduced the PFAS concentration in water leaving the pipe by 99.95% to 99.99%. However, PFAS concentration increased after periods of stagnation, corresponding to slow release of adhered PFAS. Flushing may be a valuable part of the decontamination process, but flushing parameters and duration need to be optimized for local conditions.

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