Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is committed to being good environmental stewards by making it an important part of our mission. Through the base's aggressive pollution prevention, restoration, natural resources conservation, and environmental compliance initiatives, we continue to fully integrate environmental considerations into all phases of operations and comply with all applicable federal, state, local, and Air Force environmental laws and regulations.
By promoting a truly cross-functional approach to environmental stewardship, DM will ensure that the responsibility for protecting and enhancing our environment rests not with one office or squadron, but with the entire 355th Wing.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) remain committed to working with regulatory partners to address potential impacts of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Tucson’s drinking water that may have resulted from Air Force mission activities. In alignment with the Department of Defense’s response to the issue, the Air Force has taken considerable steps to identify, respond to and prevent the spread of PFAS, and that work continues today.
Beginning in 2015, AFCEC began a series of inspections and investigations sampling water and soil at Davis-Monthan AFB, as well as private wells one mile down gradient of the installation, to assess the presence of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), two PFAS compounds used in many industrial and consumer products. The data collected from these ongoing efforts is shared with Tucson Water, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during recurring collaborative working groups to help guide the whole-of-government approach needed to address this issue.
PFOS and PFOA were used in legacy formulas of aqueous film-forming foam, commonly used by commercial industries and the armed services to extinguish petroleum fires associated with aircraft emergencies. Davis-Monthan AFB transitioned to a new formula of the foam in 2016 that meets both military specification requirements for firefighting and the goals of the EPA’s PFOA Stewardship Program. It contains no PFOS and only trace amounts of PFOA, and is not used in training activities. The only time the installation’s emergency responders would use this foam is in the event of a fuel fire. If used, preventive actions would be taken to limit the release of PFOA into the environment.
More recently, AFCEC awarded a contract in June 2020 for a Remedial Investigation at Davis-Monthan AFB to further study the nature and extent of PFOS and PFOA impact in the area. This effort began in April 2021 and will include ongoing sampling of surface water, groundwater, sediment and soil on the base through the fall of 2024. Additionally, based on sampling data provided by Tucson Water and ADEQ, AFCEC also plans to test additional private wells in the immediate vicinity of the installation.
While these compounds are not regulated, the Air Force is taking proactive measures, led by AFCEC, to ensure drinking water that may have been impacted by mission activities meets the EPA's Lifetime Health Advisory of 70 parts per trillion for PFOS and PFOA. The service-wide effort is guided by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and state laws. The CERCLA clean-up process allows the Air Force to evaluate unacceptable risk to human health and the environment and plan for a range of responses prioritized within its environmental program.
The Air Force will continue to take aggressive action and work with community and regulatory partners to identify and implement long-term solutions for drinking water.
For more information on the Air Force’s response to PFOS and PFOA please visit http://www.afcec.af.mil/WhatWeDo/Environment/Perfluorinated-Compounds/ or contact Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs at 1-866-725-7617 or AFIMSC.PA.Workflow@us.af.mil.
For questions relating to Davis-Monthan AFB, please contact the 355th Wing Public Affairs Office at (520) 228-3406 or 355WGPA@us.af.mil.
April 2021, Draft Environmental Assessment Playas Special Use Airspace
2020 355th Wing Environmental Commitment Statement
2019 Davis-Monthan Water Quality Report
2019 Final Personnel Recovery Environment Assessment
Air Force Reserve Command F-35A Operational Beddown Environment Impact Statement Website
Final Record of Decision on Site 36, Aerospace Ground Equipment Yard, Building 4712