A three-year pilot program run by the University of Florida would determine the best way to clean up PFAS contamination in the state.
PFAS are man-made chemicals manufactured and used in a variety of industries since the 1940s. The chemicals can’t be broken down by the human body and can cause health problems in people and the environment if the chemicals are allowed to accumulate over time, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
More than 100 PFAS contaminated sites have been identified in Florida, according to the appropriations request document.
The goal of the project is to identify and demonstrate a reliable, safe, and cost-effective process for treatment of materials that are generated from the cleanup of Florida’s PFAS contaminated sites.
The program would cost the state $2.94 million in non-recurring funds and it would be run through the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering’s Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment.
The project will test to see if thermal treatment of the PFAS neutralizes the negative effects to human health.
The money will fund UF faculty, including a principal investigator, research engineers and scientists and graduate research assistants. The funding also covers lab equipment and contractor payments to help set up high temperature PFAS treatment.
If the project is successful, construction and operation of new and upgraded thermal facilities could create jobs, according to the appropriations request document.
An additional project goal is to determine if contaminated soil can be reused for agriculture purposes after it has been decontaminated.
The need for the pilot program stems from a 2019 EPA study that found current treatment and remediation technologies for PFAS are too expensive for some PFAS-impacted communities. The EPA also reported a need for field-scale demonstration of the type of PFAS treatment the pilot program would test.