Air concentrations and particlegas partitioning of polyfluoroalkyl compounds at a wastewater treatment plant

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Environmental contextPolyfluoroalkyl compounds, widely used chemicals in consumer and industrial products, are global pollutants in the environment. Transport mechanisms and environmental pathways of these compounds, however, are not yet fully understood. We show that a wastewater treatment plant can be an important source for polyfluoroalkyl compounds to the atmosphere where they have the potential to be transported long distances. AbstractAn air sampling campaign was conducted at a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) to investigate air concentrations and particlegas partitioning of polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs). Samples were collected at an aeration tank and a secondary clarifier using both active high volume samplers and passive samplers comprising sorbent-impregnated polyurethane foam (SIP) disks. Water to air transport of PFCs was believed to be enhanced at the aeration tank owing to aerosol-mediated transport caused by surface turbulence induced by aeration. Mean air concentrations of target PFCs at the aeration tank were enriched relative to the secondary clarifier by factors of ∼19, ∼4 and ∼3 for ∑fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) (11000 v. 590pgm-3), ∑perfluorooctane sulfonamides perfluorooctane sulfonamidoethanols (FOSAs FOSEs) (120 v. 30pgm-3) and ∑perfluoroalkyl carboxylates perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFCAs PFSAs) (4000 v. 1300pgm-3) respectively. The particle associated fraction in the atmosphere increased with increasing chain length for PFCAs (from 60 to 100%) and PFSAs were predominantly bound to particles (∼98%). Lower fractions on particles were found for FTOHs (∼3%), FOSAs (∼30%) and FOSEs (∼40%). The comparison of the active and passive air sampling showed good agreement.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Chemistry
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)363-371
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2011

    Research areas

  • Chemistry - atmosphere, passive air sampler, PFC, PFOA, PFOS, WWTP