Risks of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) for Sustainable Water Recycling via Aquifers

By Declan Page, Joanne Vanderzalm, Anupama Kumar, Ka Yu Cheng, Anna H. Kaksonen, and Stuart Simpson
August 28, 2019
DOI: 10.3390/w11081737


The prediction of the fate of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water recycling with urban stormwater and treated wastewater is important since PFAS are widely used, persistent, and have potential impacts on human health and the environment. These alternative water sources have been utilized for water recycling via aquifers or managed aquifer recharge (MAR). However, the fate of these chemicals in MAR schemes and the potential impact in terms of regulation have not been studied. PFAS can potentially be transported long distances in the subsurface during MAR. This article reviews the potential risks to MAR systems using recycled water and urban stormwater. To date, there are insufficient data to determine if PFAS can be degraded by natural processes or retained in the aquifer and become suitable pre-treatment or post-treatment technologies that will need to be employed depending upon the end use of the recovered water. The use of engineered pre-treatment or post-treatment methods needs to be based on a ‘fit for purpose’ principle and carefully integrated with the proposed water end use to ensure that human and environmental health risks are appropriately managed. 

Keywords: perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); treatment; urban water; water recycling; managed aquifer recharge (MAR)

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