Sorbent assisted immobilisation of perfluoroalkyl acids in soils - effect on leaching and bioavailability

By Jennifer Bräunig, Christine Baduel, Craig M Barnes, and Jochen F Mueller
J Hazard Mater
February 9, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.125171

Contamination of soils and groundwater with perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) is widespread due to their use in aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF). In this study the effectiveness of RemBind®, a sorbent containing activated carbon and aluminium oxyhydroxides was tested, as a tool to reduce the leaching and bioavailability of 12 PFAAs in soils, by amending contaminated soils with 5-30% (by weight) of the sorbents. Batch tests were used to determine the leaching of PFAAs. Their bioavailability to earthworms and wheat grass was assessed in greenhouse microcosms. Leaching and bioavailability of PFOS was reduced by up to 99.9%, at most sorbent application rates. Lowest reduction of leaching was found for shorter perfluoroalkyl chain length chemicals. The specific formulation of RemBind®, which is available in a basic and superior formulation, as well as the application rate were parameters for increasing effectiveness of the treatment. Furthermore, differences in leaching as well as bioavailability were seen depending on the perfluoroalkyl chain length. A preliminary assessment of the long-term stability of the treatment, assessed after a three-year curing period, suggested that the sorbent continued to be effective in reducing PFAAs in leachates, thus showing the potential of this sorbent to hinder further environmental contamination.

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