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Quantifying Diffuse and Point Inputs of Perfluoroalkyl Acids in a Nonindustrial River Catchment

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journal contribution
posted on 01.12.2011, 00:00 by Claudia E. Müller, Nora Spiess, Andreas C. Gerecke, Martin Scheringer, Konrad Hungerbühler
Recently, the role of diffuse inputs of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) into surface waters has been investigated. It has been observed that river loads increased during rain and that street runoff contained considerable loads of PFAAs. This study aims at quantifying these diffuse inputs and identifying the initial sources in a small nonindustrial river catchment. The river was sampled in three distinct subcatchments (rural, urban, and wastewater treatment plant) at high temporal resolution during two rain events and samples were analyzed for perfluorocarboxylates and perfluorosulfonates. Additionally, rain, stormwater runoff, wastewater effluent, and drinking water were sampled. PFAA concentrations in river water were all low (e.g., < 10 ng/L for perfluorooctanoate, PFOA), but increased during rainfall. PFAA concentrations and water discharge data were integrated into a mass balance assessment that shows that 30–60% of PFAA loads can be attributed to diffuse inputs. Rain contributed 10–50% of the overall loads, mobilization of dry deposition and outdoor release of PFAA from products with 20–60%. We estimated that within a year 2.5–5 g of PFOA originating from rain and surface runoff are emitted into this small catchment (6 km2, 12 500 persons).