Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Toilet Paper and the Impact on Wastewater Systems

By Jake T. Thompson, Boting Chen, John A. Bowden, and Timothy G. Townsend
March 1, 2023
DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.3c00094

Here, we evaluate a perhaps unexpected contributor of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to our wastewater, an input anticipated at every wastewater treatment facility─toilet paper. In this study, both toilet paper and wastewater sludge were characterized to explore the magnitude of the potential PFAS loading into wastewater systems from toilet paper. In both toilet paper and wastewater sludge, 6:2 fluorotelomer phosphate diester (6:2 diPAP) was the most prevalent PFAS detected, and toilet paper usage was estimated to contribute from 6.4 to 80 μg/person-year of 6:2 diPAP to wastewater–water systems. Our results suggest that toilet paper should be considered as a potentially major source of PFAS entering wastewater treatment systems.


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