Legacy and emerging per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in Australian biosolids

By oodie, Damien, Timothy Coggan, Kathryn Berry, Adam Kolobaric, Milena Fernandes, Elliot Lee, Suzie Reichman, Dayanthi Nugegoda, and Bradley O. Clarke
December 22, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.129143

Biosolids samples were collected from 19 Australian WWTPs during 2018 that cover a range of catchment types (urban, rural, industrial waste discharges) and treatment technologies. Samples were analyzed for 44 PFAS using isotope dilution and alkaline extraction coupled with quantification with LC-MS/MS. The Σ44PFAS mean concentration was 260 ng/g dry weight (dw) and ranged between 4.2 and 910 ng/g dw. The dominant compound class detected were the di-substituted phosphate esters (Σ3PAPs mean 140 ng/g dw; range ND - 730 ng/g dw) which contributed 45% of the total mean Σ44PFAS mass, followed by perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (Σ11PFCAs mean 39 ng/g dw; range 2.3 - 120 ng/g dw) contributing 17%, and the perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (Σ8PFSAs mean 28 ng/g dw; range 0.9 - 220 ng/g) which contributed 16%. Using the population data supplied by the participating WWTPs, the mean annual estimated biosolids-associated PFAS contribution is 6 mg per person per year and ranged between 0.6 mg and 15 mg. A similar population normalized concentration regardless of WWTP, region or capacity suggests that the domestic environment provides the baseline PFAS loading. Statistically significant higher Σ44PFAS and PFOS concentrations were observed at urban locations. A weak correlation was observed between annual mass of PFAS associated with each individual WWTP and their percentage industrial waste contribution. This may be important for understanding higher PFAS concentrations observed in WWTPs with higher industrial waste inputs and requires further research.


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