Comparison of PFAS soil remediation alternatives at a civilian airport using cost-benefit analysis
Journal article, 2023

Contamination of soil and water systems by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) due to uncontrolled use of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) at firefighting training sites at civilian and military airports is a universal issue and can lead to significant human health and environmental impacts. Remediation of these sites is often complex but necessary to alleviate the PFAS burden and minimise the risks of exposure by eliminating the hotspot/source from which the PFAS spreads. This study presents a probabilistic cost-benefit analysis (CBA) for evaluating PFAS remediation alternatives, which includes monetisation of both direct costs and benefits as well as externalities. The method is applied for a case study to compare five remediation alternatives for managing PFAS contaminated soil at Stockholm Arlanda Airport in Sweden. The social profitability, or the net present value (NPV), of each remediation alternative was calculated in comparison to two reference alternatives – ‘total excavation’ of the site (Alt 0) or ‘do nothing’. Sensitivity analyses and model scenarios were tested to account for uncertainties, including small or large PFAS spreading and simulating different values for the magnitude of annual avoided cost of inaction (i.e., aggregate benefit) from PFAS remediation. In comparison to total excavation, four of the five studied remediation alternatives resulted in a positive mean NPV. Excavation and stabilization/solidification of the hotspot on-site combined with stabilization using activated carbon for the rest of site (Alt 2) had the highest NPV for both spreading scenarios, i.e., Alt 2 was the most socially profitable alternative. Simulations of the annual avoided cost of inaction enabled estimation of the breakeven point at which a remediation alternative becomes socially profitable (NPV > 0) compared to ‘do nothing’. Alt 2 had the lowest breakeven point: 7.5 and 5.75 millions of SEK/year for large and small spreading, respectively.

Gentle remediation options (GRO)


Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)

Sustainable remediation

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

Ecosystem services


Paul Drenning

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Geology and Geotechnics

Yevheniya Volchko

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Geology and Geotechnics

L. Ahrens

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Lars Rosen

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Geology and Geotechnics

T. Soderqvist

Holmboe & Skarp AB

Jenny Norrman

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Geology and Geotechnics

Science of the Total Environment

0048-9697 (ISSN) 1879-1026 (eISSN)

Vol. 882 163664

Evaluation of innovative and gentle in situ remediation strategies to manage risks and improve ecosystem services (PILOT-GRO)

COWI A/S (APE/knl/C-147.01), 2021-05-01 -- 2024-08-01.

Swedish Geotechnical Institute (SGI) (1.1-2104-0303), 2021-05-01 -- 2024-08-01.

Formas (2021-01428), 2021-05-01 -- 2024-08-01.

Nordvästra Skånes Renhållnings AB (NSR), 2021-05-01 -- 2024-08-01.

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), 2021-05-01 -- 2024-08-01.

Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU), 2021-05-01 -- 2024-08-01.

Subject Categories

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

Other Environmental Engineering

Environmental Sciences





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