Side-chain fluorinated polymer surfactants in biosolids from wastewater treatment plants

By Robert J. Letcher, Shaogang Chu, and Shirley-Anne Smyth
J. Haz. Mat.
January 20, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.122044

High concentrations of the main components in Scotchgard™ fabric protector products (pre-2002 and post-2002; side-chain fluorinated polymer surfactants, S1 and S2, respectively) were detected in biosolids samples from twenty pan-Canadian wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Based on mass spectrometric analysis, S1 and S2 can be named as side-chain perfluorooctane sulfonamide-urethane polymer and side-chain perfluorobutane sulfonamide-urethane polymer, respectively. S1 (with C8F17 side-chain) concentrations ranged from 1.08–105 ng/g d.w. and S2 (with C4F9 side-chain) concentrations ranged from 37.5–2051 ng/g d.w., which were much higher than that of other commonly monitored perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). S1 and S2 concentrations were significantly correlated (p < 0.001; r2 = 0.6142) indicating similar source origins. A negative linear correlation was observed (p < 0.05) between concentrations of S1 (or S2) with the volume of WWTP treated wastewater per day per person (m3/person/day). The total concentration of 22 other PFAS ranged from 4.93 to 92.6 ng/g d.w., and approximately thirty times lower than S1 and S2 concentrations. The calculated elemental fluorine concentrations of ƩFS1&S2 were generally much higher than the sum of the other PFAS. PFAS concentrations in biosolids are likely underestimated without consideration of S1 and S2.

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