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Research Project

Perfluorinated compounds in Arizona groundwater: Sources of contamination

The trace organic contaminant perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was detected in several groundwater production wells in 2009 by the Tucson Water Department in their Microconstituent Sentinel Program .  The origin of PFOS contamination in Tucson Basin ground water is unknown although it is strongly suspected that municipal wastewater effluent that recharges the local aquifer via the Santa Cruz River is an important source.  PFOS, the key ingredient in Scotchgard up until 2003, is a perfluorinated anthropogenic chemical that is very persistent and a suspected human carcinogen with a half life in the human body of 4-10 years.  The project is designed to identify major source(s) of PFOS in ground water in the Tucson Basin.  Measurements will yield data that informs the public regarding potable water quality characteristics and establish whether PFOS is attenuated during infiltration/percolation for groundwater replenishment.   This one-year project is funded by a USGS 104b grant administered through the UA Water Resources Research Center.  David Quanrud, an Associate Research Scientist in SNRE, is leading the project team.  Other UA investigators include Robert Arnold & Eduardo Saez (Chemical and Environmental Engineering), and Leif Abrell (Soil, Water, and Environmental Science).  Project partners include the City of Tucson and the Town of Marana.

Funding Agency: USGS

Princple Investigator: David Quanrud

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