Evaluation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in landfill liquids from Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Wisconsin

By Yutao Chen, Hekai Zhang, Yalan Liu, John A Bowden, Timothy G Townsend, and Helena M Solo-Gabriele
March 19, 2024
DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2024.141719

PER: and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been measured in aqueous components within landfills. To date, the majority of these studies have been conducted in Florida. This current study aimed to evaluate PFAS concentrations in aqueous components (leachate, gas condensate, stormwater, and groundwater) from four landfills located outside of Florida, in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Wisconsin (2 landfills). The Pennsylvania landfill also provided the opportunity to assess a leachate treatment system. Sample analyses were consistent across studies including the measurements of 26 PFAS and physical-chemical parameters. For the four target landfills, average PFAS concentrations were 6,900, 22,000, 280, and 260 ng L in the leachate, gas condensate, stormwater, and groundwater, respectively. These results were not significantly different than those observed for landfills in Florida except for the significantly higher PFAS concentrations in gas condensate compared to leachate for landfills outside of Florida. For on-site treatment at the Pennsylvania landfill, results suggest that the membrane biological bioreactor (MBBR) system performed similarly as aeration-based leachate treatment systems at Florida landfills resulting in no significant decreases in ∑PFAS. Overall, results suggest a general consistency across US regions in PFAS concentrations within different landfill liquid types, with the few differences observed likely influenced by landfill design and local climate. Results confirm that leachate exposed to open air (e.g., in trenches or in treatment systems) have lower proportions of perfluoroalkyl acid precursors relative to leachate collected in enclosed pipe systems. Results also confirm that landfills without bottom liner systems may have relatively higher PFAS levels in adjacent groundwater and that landfills in wetter climates tend to have higher PFAS concentrations in leachate.

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