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Water science and technology : a journal of the International Association on Water Pollution Research

Emissions of perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) from point sources--identification of relevant branches.


PMID 18653937

Abstract

Effluents of wastewater treatment plants are relevant point sources for the emission of hazardous xenobiotic substances to the aquatic environment. One group of substances, which recently entered scientific and political discussions, is the group of the perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS). The most studied compounds from this group are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS), which are the most important degradation products of PFAS. These two substances are known to be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT). In the present study, eleven PFAS were investigated in effluents of municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) and in industrial wastewaters. PFOS and PFOA proved to be the dominant compounds in all sampled wastewaters. Concentrations of up to 340 ng/L of PFOS and up to 220 ng/L of PFOA were observed. Besides these two compounds, perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA) was also present in nearly all effluents and maximum concentrations of up to 280 ng/L were measured. Only N-ethylperfluorooctane sulphonamide (N-EtPFOSA) and its degradation/metabolisation product perfluorooctane sulphonamide (PFOSA) were either detected below the limit of quantification or were not even detected at all. Beside the effluents of the municipal WWTPs, nine industrial wastewaters from six different industrial branches were also investigated. Significantly, the highest emissions or PFOS were observed from metal industry whereas paper industry showed the highest PFOA emission. Several PFAS, especially perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoA) and PFOS are predominantly emitted from industrial sources, with concentrations being a factor of 10 higher than those observed in the municipal WWTP effluents. Perfluorodecane sulphonate (PFDS), N-Et-PFOSA and PFOSA were not detected in any of the sampled industrial point sources.

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