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Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Landfill Leachate: Patterns, Time Trends, and Sources

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journal contribution
posted on 06.11.2012, 00:00 by Jonathan P. Benskin, Belinda Li, Michael G. Ikonomou, John R. Grace, Loretta Y. Li
Concentrations and isomer profiles for 24 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) were monitored over 5 months (February–June, 2010) in municipal landfill leachate. These data were used to assess the role of perfluoroalkyl acid (PFAA) precursor degradation on changes in PFAA concentrations over time. The influence of total organic carbon, total suspended solids, pH, electrical conductivity (EC), leachate flow rates, and meteorological data (precipitation, air temperature) on leachate PFAS concentrations was also investigated. Perfluoropentanoate and perfluorohexanoate were typically the dominant PFASs in leachate, except for March–April, when concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonate, perfluorooctanoate, and numerous PFAA-precursors (i.e., (N-alkyl) perfluorooctane sulfonamides and fluorotelomer carboxylic acids) increased by a factor of 2–10 (∼4 μg/L to ∼36 μg/L ΣPFASs). During this time, isomer profiles of PFOA became increasingly dominated by the linear isomer, likely from transformation of linear, telomer-manufactured precursors. While ΣPFAA-precursors accounted for up to 71% of ΣPFASs (molar basis) in leachate from this site, leachate from a second landfill displayed only low concentrations of precursors (<1% of ΣPFASs). Overall, degradation of PFAA-precursors and changes in leachate pH, EC, and 24-h precipitation were important factors controlling PFAS occurrence in leachate. Finally, 8.5–25 kg/yr (mean 16 kg/yr) of ΣPFASs was estimated to leave the landfill via leachate for subsequent treatment at a wastewater treatment plant.