Photochemical transformation of perfluoroalkyl acid precursors in water using engineered nanomaterials

By Yunrong Dai, Xingxing Guo, Siyu Wang, Lifeng Yin, and Michael R Hoffmann
Water Res.
June 10, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2020.115964

The production of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) has been phased out over recent decades; however, no significant decline in their environmental concentrations has been observed. This is partly due to the photochemical decomposition of PFAAs precursors (PrePFAAs) which remain in extensive use. The decomposition of PrePFAAs may be accelerated by the light-activated engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) in water. In light of this hypothesis, we investigated the photochemical transformation of three PrePFAAs, which are 8:2 fluorotelomer sulfonic acid (8:2 FTSA), 8:2 fluorotelomer alcohol (8:2 FTOH), and 2-(N-ethylperfluorooctane-1-sulfonamido ethyl] phosphate (SAmPAP), in the presence of six ENMs under simulated sunlight irradiation. The transformation rates of 8:2 FTSA and 8:2 FTOH were increased by 2-6 times when in the presence of six ENMs. However, most of ENMs appeared to inhibit the decomposition of SAmPAP. The transformation rates of PrePFAAs were found to depend on the yield of reactive oxygen species generated by ENMs, but the rates were also related to compound photo-stability, adsorption to surfaces, and photo-shielding effects. The PrePFAAs are transformed to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or/and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) with higher toxicity and longer half-life, PFOA or PFOS and a few PFAAs having shorter carbon chain lengths. Higher concentrations of the PFAAs photodegradation products were observed in the presence of most of the ENMs.

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