Understanding and Managing the Potential By‐Products of PFAS Destruction

By John Horst, Jeffrey McDonough, Ian Ross, and Erika Houtz
Ground. Mon. & Rem.
May 26, 2020
DOI: 10.1111/gwmr.12372

Over the past five years in this column series we have tackled the topic of emerging contaminants many times, inclusive of the relevant per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) (Suthersan et al. 2016a, 2016b; Horst et al. 2018). The focus in these past columns has largely been on technology for characterization or treatment and approaches to situational response. For this column, we are looking in a new direction. As advancements continue in the exploration and development of technologies described to be capable of destroying PFAS, the potential for recalcitrant by-products which may form as a result of incomplete destruction are an important consideration. Managing the issue of potential PFAS related by-products created as a result of using certain technologies has been discussed in some academic literature; however, with water treatment focused largely and understandably on long-chain PFAS such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), this question has been largely marginalized as a consolidated topic. The purpose of this column is to gather evidence from the literature and initiate a look into the potential by-products associated with commercially available and developing treatment technologies which are implemented in order to cause destruction of PFAS or have the potential to create PFAS from their precursors.

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