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Assessment of the Influence of Soil Characteristics and Hydrocarbon Fuel Cocontamination on the Solvent Extraction of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

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journal contribution
posted on 20.01.2017, 00:00 by Sandra Mejia-Avendaño, Gabriel Munoz, Sébastien Sauvé, Jinxia Liu
Sites impacted by the use of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) present elevated concentrations of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The characterization of the PFAS contamination at such sites may be greatly complicated by the presence of hydrocarbon cocontaminants and by the large variety of PFAS potentially present in AFFFs. In order to further a more comprehensive characterization of AFFF-contaminated soils, the solvent extraction of PFAS from soil was studied under different conditions. Specifically, the impact of soil properties (textural class, organic matter content) and the presence of hydrocarbon contamination (supplemented in the form of either diesel or crude oil) on PFAS recovery performance was evaluated for two extraction methods [methanol/sodium hydroxide (MeOH/NaOH) and methanol/ammonium hydroxide (MeOH/NH4OH)]. While both methods performed satisfactorily for perfluoroalkyl acids and fluorotelomer sulfonates, the extraction of newly identified surfactants with functionalities such as betaine and quaternary ammonium was improved with the MeOH/NaOH based method. The main factors that were found to influence the extraction efficiency were the soil properties; a high organic matter or clay content was observed to negatively affect the recovery of the newly identified compounds. While the MeOH/NaOH solvent yielded more efficient recovery rates overall, it also entailed the disadvantage of presenting higher detection limits and substantial matrix effects at the instrumental analysis stage, requiring matrix-matched calibration curves. The results discussed herein bear important implications for a more comprehensive and reliable environmental monitoring of PFAS components at AFFF-impacted sites.