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Distribution, transformation and remediation of poly- and per-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in wastewater sources

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineReview articlepeer-review

  • James O’Connor
  • Nanthi S. Bolan
  • Manish Kumar
  • Ashis Sutradhar Nital
  • Mohammad Boshir Ahmed
  • Meththika Vithanage
  • Jörg Rinklebe
  • Raj Mukhopadhyay
  • Prashant Srivastava
  • Binoy Sarkar
  • Amit Bhatnagar
  • Hailong Wang
  • Kadambot H.M. Siddique
  • M.B. Kirkham
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/08/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Process Safety and Environmental Protection
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)91-108
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date11/06/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals, which reach terrestrial and aquatic environments through anthropogenic activities. Major sources of PFAS in the environment include fire-fighting foams (aqueous film forming foam (AFFF)), wastewater sources, biosolids, and composts. Limited information is available about PFAS in wastewater, which is the focus of this review. PFAS wastewater sources include domestic effluents, industrial effluents, landfill leachates, stormwater, and agricultural effluents through their use in various applications. Land application of PFAS-contaminated wastewater can lead to the contamination of soil and groundwater, thereby reaching the food chain through plant uptake and consumption of potable water. Landfill leachates and industrial effluents contain the highest concentrations of PFAS, posing serious risks to surrounding waterways. Transformation of PFAS precursors can occur through abiotic and biotic processes within the treatment of wastewater, resulting in the formation of harmful PFAS compounds. Currently, there is limited data reported on novel short-chain and ultra-short chain PFAS and PFAS precursors. The strong thermal and chemical stability of PFAS and the complex nature of PFAS mixtures makes the remediation of PFAS in wastewater challenging. However, the review examines and compares current technologies which can treat and remove PFAS from wastewaters. In this review, the distribution, transformation, and remediation of PFAS and their substitutes in wastewater sources are covered.