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Colleges and companies collaborate to study PFAS soil purification methods at Schriever SFB

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - A team of scientists at the Colorado School of Mines alongside other major universities will be testing out soil purification technologies at Schriever Space Force Base.

It's an international effort to defeat what is commonly known as "Forever Chemicals."

Commonly found in firefighting foams, Teflon pans, and even fast food wrappers, per and poly-fluoroalkylate substances or "PFAS" are linked to hormonal disruptions, certain kinds of cancer, and other serious health issues.

The three universities and five companies, both foreign and domestic, are testing technologies to get these chemicals out of soils. The work is funded by the Department of Defense.

The scientists are testing PFAS-destroying technology from Savron Solutions, TerraTherm, Allonia, Aquagga, 374Water, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

"PFAS sitting in soils or sediments can leach out over time. In fact, all of the groundwater plumes that exist in Colorado are primarily derived from PFAS, is being applied at the soil surface and leaching through the soil and into the groundwater," Christopher Higgins, professor at Colorado School of Mines and overall project leader and principal investigator said.

According to Higgins, when people ingest water that contains PFAS, it can lead to long-term health effects. The teams will test the technologies at the Schriever Space Force base, where soil has been contaminated by the firefighting foams historically used there.

Some of the technology solutions use extreme heat to break down the particles, while others use a kind of water technology to change the molecular structure of the chemicals.

"Assessing the efficacy is the way to think of it. So we're we're developing a framework to compare the technologies," Higgins said.

Higgins said they plan to put the technology to the test beginning in the spring of next year.

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Emily Coffey

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