U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)


PFOA, PFOS and other PFASs are man-made chemicals; because of their widespread use and chemical and physical properties (persistence and mobility), they have been transported into air, groundwater, surface waters (fresh, estuarine, and marine), and soils in the vicinity of their original source and at great distances (USEPA 2016a). In this section, environmental occurrence refers both to the presence of PFASs in commercial products and to the distribution and points of accumulation of PFASs in the environment. Where routes of exposure are considered, the emphasis here is on occurrence rather than on toxicology. Information on fate and transport is found in Chemistry and Behavior, and human health and ecological effects in Toxicology.

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Commercial Uses/Potential Sources | Environmental Distribution and Accumulation | Overview Resources | Consumer Products | Food and Drinking Water | Indoor Air and Dust | Firefighter Training Areas | Land Application of Biosolids | Landfills | Wastewater Treatment

Commercial Uses/Potential Sources

PFASs have been used to provide water, oil, and stain repellency to textiles, carpets, and leather; to create grease-proof and water-proof coatings for paper plates and food packaging; and to aid processing in fluoropolymer manufacturing among many other commercial and consumer applications. They also have been used in chrome plating, firefighting foams, liquid carpet and textile care treatments, and floor waxes and sealants (CECBP 2015).

OECD (2013) provides a detailed discussion of PFAS uses within different industries, and groups current and former users of PFAS chemicals by the following industries:

Aviation, aerospace & defense Household products
Biocides Metal plating
Cable & wiring Oil and mining production
Construction products (paints and coatings) Paper and packaging
Electronics Polymerization
Fire-fighting Textiles, leather and apparel
Food processing  

The manufacture, use, and disposal of items from these industries can contribute to PFAS environmental occurrence. Additional information on potential commercial sources can be found in UNEP (2015), which provides in-depth information on the kinds of articles that might contain PFOS and related chemicals; lists the industries that use and produce the chemicals; describes the supply chain (suppliers, importers and exporters, producers, manufacturers, downstream users); and discusses product end-of-life and recycling relevant to waste, stockpiles, and contaminated sites.

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Environmental Distribution and Accumulation

Elevated concentrations of perfluoroalkyls have been measured in air, water, soil, and sediment near fluorochemical industrial facilities and other sources. PFOS and PFOA have been widely detected in surface water samples collected from various rivers, lakes, and streams in the United States. Long-range atmospheric transport of precursor compounds such as fluorotelomer alcohols and perfluoroalkyl sulfonamides followed by the atmospheric photooxidation of these substances to form perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids and perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids results in contamination in remote locations with no direct point sources for these compounds. A second source of perfluoroalkyls in remote areas is direct oceanic transport of these substances. Perfluoroalkyl compounds have been measured in invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, bird eggs, and mammals located around the world.

Water resources (i.e., surface water and groundwater) are susceptible to contamination by PFAS release from manufacturing sites, industrial use, aircraft fire and emergency response training areas, and industrial or municipal waste sites where products are disposed of or applied. PFOA and other PFASs have been reported in wastewater and biosolids as a result of manufacturing activities, disposal of coated paper and other consumer products, and from washing stain-repellant fabrics. Historically, land application of biosolids has been a source of PFOA and other PFASs in surface water or groundwater (USEPA 2016a and b).


CECBP (California Environmental Contaminant Biomonitoring Program). 2015. Potential Designated Chemicals: Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs).Adobe PDF Logo 22 pp.

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2013. Synthesis Paper on Per- and Polyfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs).Adobe PDF Logo OECD/UNEP Global PFC Group, Environment, Health and Safety, Environment Directorate, 60 pp.

UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). 2015. Guidance for the Inventory of Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS) and Related Chemicals Listed under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, Revised Draft. UNEP/POPS/COP.7/INF/26.

USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2016a. Drinking Water Health Advisory for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA).Adobe PDF Logo Office of Water, EPA 822-R-16-005, 103 pp.

USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2016b. Drinking Water Health Advisory for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS).Adobe PDF Logo Office of Water, EPA 822-R-16-004, 88 pp.

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Overview Resources

Adobe PDF LogoDrinking Water Health Advisory for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)
USEPA, Office of Water.
EPA 822-R-16-005, 103 pp, 2016

Chapter 2 contains information on occurrence and sources of exposure for PFOA in surface water and ground water, drinking water, food, ambient air, indoor dust, soils, biosolids, and consumer products.

Adobe PDF LogoDrinking Water Health Advisory for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS)
USEPA, Office of Water.
EPA 822-R-16-004, 88 pp, 2016

Chapter 2 contains information on occurrence and sources of exposure for PFOS in surface water and ground water, drinking water, food, ambient air, indoor dust, soils, biosolids, and consumer products.

Adobe PDF LogoFlorida Statewide PFAS Pilot Study at Drycleaning Sites
Barnes, N., F. Fortes, and S. Folsom. Florida Department of Environmental Protection Waste Site Cleanup Program, 24 pp, 2021

A pilot study was commissioned to conduct background research, field investigations of environmental media, and analysis of waste stream components for PFAS to evaluate the relationship of PFAS occurrence at drycleaning facilities in the Florida Drycleaning Solvent Cleanup Program. The study, completed over 26 months, found PFAS in soil and groundwater above provisional cleanup target levels at 10 of the 15 pilot study sites. The drycleaners appeared to be the source of PFAS. Data indicates PFAS likely leached from fabrics during the dry cleaning and/or wet laundering activities. This white paper summarizes the scientific research, investigative techniques, interpretations of results, and lessons learned from the study.

A Methodology for Estimating Human Exposure to Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA): A Retrospective Exposure Assessment of a Community (1951-2003)
Paustenbach, D.J., J.M. Panko, P.K. Scott, and K.M. Unice.
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part A 70(1):28-57(2006) [Abstract]

A retrospective PFOA exposure assessment was conducted in a range of distances for a population of about 50,000 persons who reside near one of the facilities where this chemical was used. Several novel methods were developed for the study and applied in this analysis to estimate the concentrations in all relevant environmental media, including ambient air, surface soil, drinking water, and homegrown vegetables.

Monitoring of Perfluorinated Compounds in Aquatic Biota: An Updated Review
Houde, M., A.O. De Silva, D.C.G. Muir, and R.J. Letcher.
Environmental Science & Technology 45(19):7962-7973(2011) [Abstract]

Reviewers summarize environmental biological monitoring information on the occurrence of PFCs in aquatic ecosystems post-2005.

Occurrence and Behavior of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances from Aqueous Film-Forming Foam in Groundwater Systems
Hatton, J., C. Holton, and B. DiGuiseppi.
Remediation Journal 28(2):89-99(2018) [Open Access]

Background is presented on AFFF and PFAS source characteristics in Part 1 of this paper, including common industrial and consumer PFAS sources. Part 2 discusses chemical properties, sorption and retention parameters, observed transformation properties of PFAS and related compounds, and knowledge gaps.

Adobe PDF LogoPer- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: A Preliminary Evaluation of Groundwater Contamination in the Western States
Johnson, C.D. Idaho National Laboratory Report INL/EXP-22-68230-Rev000, 3 pp, 2022

Due to the near-zero health advisory limits published by the EPA in June 2022 for PFOA and PFOS and the known negative health effects, a map of estimated PFAS groundwater contamination for western states was created using ArcGIS Pro and geostatistical tools to inform the public and determine which regions are most at-risk. Because data is often reported in combined PFOA and PFOS concentrations, and for ease of data visualization, concentrations of the two chemicals are discussed as a single, summed value and compared to the combined health advisory limits of 0.024 ppt. Groundwater data for PFOA and PFOS were acquired through the Environmental Working Group, georeferenced, and layered on top of major aquifer boundaries retrieved from the ESRI Portal.

Perfluorinated Chemicals in Sediments, Lichens, and Seabirds from the Antarctic Peninsula: Environmental Assessment and Management Perspectives
Alava, J.J., M. McDougall, M. Borbor-Cordova, K.P. Calle, M. Riofrio, N. Calle, M. Ikonomou, and F. Gobas.
Emerging Pollutants in the Environment: Current and Further Implications, M.L. Larramendy and S. Soloneski (eds). InTech, ISBN: 978-953-51-2160-2(online):51-73(2015)

The authors provide findings on PFCs in sediments and biotic matrices, including lichens as well as feces and feathers from seabirds, and evaluate the use of noninvasive techniques to monitor emerging organic contaminants of concern in the Antarctic environment.

Adobe PDF LogoSynthesis Paper on Per- and Polyfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)
OECD/UNEP Global PFC Group, Environment, Health and Safety, Environment Directorate, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 60 pp, 2013

Chapter 1 outlines historical and current major uses of PFASs, and Chapter 2 discusses scientific evidence on sources to the environment and human exposure.

Toxicology of Perfluorinated Compounds
Stahl, T., D. Mattern, and H. Brunn.
Environmental Sciences Europe 23:38(2011) [52 pages]

An extensive review of PFAS biomonitoring data includes exposure via the food chain, dust, nonfood personal items, and indoor and outdoor air. The data cited are not confined to Europe.

Tracking the Pathways of Human Exposure to Perfluorcarboxylates
Vestergren, R. and I. Cousins.
Environmental Science & Technology 43(15):5565-5575(2009) [Abstract]

Researchers reviewed concentrations of PFOS and PFOA in human serum from the year 2000 onward in a study of the connection between historical perfluorooctanesulfonyl (POSF) production (phased out by the major manufacturer in 2000-2002) and exposure to both PFOS and PFOA.

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Consumer Products

Determination of Fluorotelomer Alcohols in Selected Consumer Products and Preliminary Investigation of Their Fate in the Indoor Environment
Liu, X., Z. Guo, E. Folk, and N. Roache.
Chemosphere 129:81-86(2015) [Abstract]

Scientists determined the concentrations of perfluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs), which are precursors to PFCAs, in 54 consumer products collected from the U.S. open market in the years 2011 and 2013. The products included carpet, commercial carpet-care liquids, household carpet/fabric-care liquids, treated apparel, treated home textiles, treated non-woven medical garments, floor waxes, food-contact paper, membranes for apparel, and thread-sealant tapes.

Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Consumer Products
Kotthoff, M., J. Mueller, H. Juerling, M, Schlummer, and D. Fiedler.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research International 22(19):14546-14559(2015)

Perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids (C4, C6-C8, C10 PFSA), carboxylic acids (C4-C14 PFCA) and fluorotelomer alcohols (4:2, 6:2; 8:2, and 10:2 FTOH) were analyzed in consumer products, including textiles (outdoor materials), carpets, cleaning and impregnating agents, leather samples, baking and sandwich papers, paper baking forms, and ski waxes.

Trends of Perfluoroalkyl Acid Content in Articles of Commerce: Market Monitoring from 2007 through 2011
Liu, X., Z. Guo, K.A. Krebs, R.H. Pope and N.F. Roache.
EPA 600-R-12-585, 76 pp, 2012

EPA has established an ongoing effort to quantify possible changes in levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in articles of commerce (AOCs). Temporal trends in the concentrations of selected PFCs, including PFOA and other perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs), in 35 AOCs were measured from the year of 2007 through 2011. The AOC samples that were collected included carpet, commercial carpet-care liquids, household carpet/fabric-care liquids, treated apparel, treated home textiles, treated nonwoven medical garments, floor waxes, food-contact paper, membranes for apparel, and thread-sealant tapes.

Adobe PDF LogoUnderstanding the Exposure Pathways of Per- and Polyfluoralkyl Substances (PFASs) via Use of PFASs-Containing Products: Risk Estimation for Man and Environment
Knepper, T.P., T. Froemel, C. Gremmel, I. van Driezum, H. Weil, R. Vestergren, and I. Cousins.
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany. Report No. (UBA-FB) 001935/E, 139 pp, 2014

An investigation of human exposure to PFASs stemming from wearing outdoor jackets was compared to the estimated average intake via diet.

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Food and Drinking Water

Detection of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in U.S. Drinking Water Linked to Industrial Sites, Military Fire Training Areas, and Wastewater Treatment Plants
Hu, X.C., D.Q. Andrews, A.B. Lindstrom, T.A. Bruton, L.A. Schaider, P. Grandjean, R. Lohmann, C.C. Carignan, A. Blum, S.A. Balan, C.P. Higgins, and E.M. Sunderland.
Environmental Science & Technology Letters 3(10):344-350(2016)

A spatial analysis of 2013-2015 national drinking water PFAS concentrations is presented from U.S. EPA's third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule program.

Dietary Exposure of Canadians to Perfluorinated Carboxylates and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate via Consumption of Meat, Fish, Fast Foods, and Food Items Prepared in Their Packaging
Tittlemier, S., K. Pepper, C. Seymour, J. Moisey, et al.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 55(8):3203-3210(2007) [Abstract]

Foods analyzed included fish and seafood, meat, poultry, frozen entrees, fast food, and microwave popcorn collected from 1992 to 2004 and prepared as for consumption.

Dietary Exposure to Perfluoroalkyl Acids for the Swedish Population in 1999, 2005 and 2010
Vestergren, R., U. Berger, A. Glynn, and I. Cousins.
Environment International 49:120-127(2012) [Abstract]

The dietary intake of PFAAs for the general Swedish population was estimated by applying a highly sensitive analytical method to a set of archived food market basket samples from 1999, 2005, and 2010.

Adobe PDF LogoHealth Risks of Dietary Exposure to Perfluorinated Compounds
Domingo, J.L.
Environment International 40:187-195(2012)

This paper reviews the state of the science regarding the concentrations of PFCs in foodstuffs, human dietary exposure to these compounds, and their health risks, with attention to the influence of processing, cooking and packaging on the PFC levels in food.

Migration of Fluorochemical Paper Additives from Food-Contact Paper into Foods and Food Simulants
Begley, T., W. Hsu, G. Noonan, and G. Diachenko.
Food Additives & Contaminants Part A 25(3):384-390(2008) [Abstract]

Migration characteristics of fluorochemicals from paper were examined in Miglyol, butter, water, vinegar, water-ethanol solutions, emulsions, and pure oil containing small amounts of emulsifiers. Additionally, microwave popcorn and chocolate spread were used to investigate migration.

Occurrence Data for the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Website, accessed July 31, 2017

The monitoring conducted under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule provides EPA and other interested parties with nationally representative data on the occurrence of contaminants in drinking water, the number of people potentially being exposed, and an estimate of the levels of that exposure. The Data Summary of the Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 3: 2013-2015) lists data on six perfluorinated compounds, including PFOA and PFOS.

Occurrence of Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylates and Sulfonates in Drinking Water Utilities and Related Waters from the United States
Quinones, O. and S. Snyder.
Environmental Science & Technology 43(24):9089-9095(2009) [Abstract]

The authors report monitoring results for 8 PFAS compounds, including PFOA and PFOS, from drinking water treatment facility samples collected across the United States, and from associated surface, ground, and wastewater sources.

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Source and Treated Drinking Waters of the United States
Boone, J.S., C. Vigo, T. Boone, C. Byrne, J. Ferrario, R. Benson, J. Donohue, J.E. Simmons, D.W. Kolpin, E.T. Furlong, and S.T. Glassmeyer.
Science of the Total Environment 653:359-369(2019)

Scientists measured 17 PFASs in source and treated water from 25 drinking water treatment plants as part of a broader study of contaminants of emerging concern in drinking water across the United States. This paper reports their findings.

Perfluoroalkyl Acids in Drinking Water: Sources, Fate and Removal
Eschauzier, Christian, Ph.D. thesis, University of Amsterdam, 154 pp, 2013

The behavior of PFAAs in the drinking water production cycle was researched from a European perspective. This thesis covers PFAAs presence in surface, ground, and drinking waters; the impact of drinking water treatment processes; an investigation of sorbent and sorbate properties for PFAAs removal; and PFAS presence in high-consumption tap-water based beverages (coffee and cola).

Perfluorochemicals in Meat, Eggs and Indoor Dust in China: Assessment of Sources and Pathways of Human Exposures to Perfluorochemicals
Zhang, T., H. Sun, Q. Wu, X. Zhang, et al.
Environmental Science & Technology 44(9):3572-3579(2010) [Abstract]

Ten perfluorochemicals, including PFOA and PFOS, were measured in meat, meat products, eggs, and indoor dust collected in China.

Perfluorochemicals: Potential Sources of and Migration from Food Packaging
Begley, T., K. White, P. Honigfort, M. Twaroski, R. Neches, and R.A. Walker.
Food Additives & Contaminants 22(10):1023-1031(2005)

Data on the types of perfluoro chemicals that are used in food packaging and cookware are followed by results from research on the migration or potential for migration of these chemicals into foods or food-simulating liquids.

Perfluorooctane Sulphonate (PFOS) Throughout the Food Production Chain
van Asselt, E.D., R.P.J.J. Rietra, P.F.A.M. Roemkens, and H.J. van der Fels-Klerx.
Food Chemistry 128(1):1-6(2011) [Abstract]

Review of PFOS concentrations and transfer for the various chain steps from farm-to-fork reveals that most research is focused on levels of PFOS in surface water and fish but data on soil and crops are largely missing in addition to the uptake of PFOS by farm animals and subsequent transfer into meat and animal products.

Quantitation of Gas-Phase Perfluoroalkyl Surfactants and Fluorotelomer Alcohols Released from Nonstick Cookware and Microwave Popcorn Bags
Sinclair, E., S.K. Kim, H.B. Akinleye, and K. Kannan.
Environmental Science & Technology 41(4):1180-1185(2007) [Abstract]

Given that salts of PFOA are used as a processing aid in the manufacture of many fluoropolymers, a study was conducted to determine if PFAS compounds are still present as residuals after the process used to coat nonstick cookware (4 types of frying pan) or packaging (3 types of prepacked microwave popcorn) and could be released during typical cooking conditions.

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Indoor Air and Dust

Elevated Levels of Perfluoroalkyl Acids in Family Members of Occupationally Exposed Workers: The Importance of Dust Transfer
Fu, J., Y. Gao, T. Wang, Y. Liang, A. Zhang, Y. Wang, and G. Jiang.
Scientific Reports 5(Article 9313):(2015)

Serum, dust, duplicate diet, and other matrices were collected around a manufacturing plant in China to evaluate potential pathways for dust ingestion.

Phosphorus-Containing Fluorinated Organics: Polyfluoroalkyl Phosphoric Acid Diesters (diPAPs), Perfluorophosphonates (PFPAs), and Perfluorophosphinates (PFPIAs) in Residential Indoor Dust
DeSilva, A.O., C. Allard, C. Spencer, G. Webster, and M. Shoeib.
Environmental Science & Technology 46(22):12575-12583(2012) [Abstract]

An analytical method for measuring several groups of emerging phosphorus-containing fluorinated compounds was used to analyze 102 residential dust samples collected in 2007-2008 from Vancouver, Canada.

Polyfluorinated compounds in Serum Linked to Indoor Air in Office Environments
Fraser, A., T. Webster, D. Watkins, J. Nelson, et al.
Environmental Science & Technology 46:1209-1215(2012) [Abstract]

In an investigation of the role of indoor office air on exposure to PFCs among office workers, week-long, active air sampling was conducted during the winter of 2009 in 31 offices in Boston, Mass., for analysis of fluorotelomer alcohols, sulfonamides, and sulfonamide ethanols.

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Firefighter Training Areas

Adobe PDF LogoFAQs Regarding PFASs Associated with AFFF use at U.S. Military Site
Field, J., C. Higgins, R. Deeb, and J. Conder.
ESTCP Project 201574-T2, 35 pp, 2017

This brief report summarizes the state of knowledge regarding PFASs as related to the use and release of aqueous film forming foams (AFFFs) at U.S. military sites. The document addresses eight frequently asked questions about PFASs and provides citations from the literature that offer more detailed information.

Adobe PDF LogoFire Fighting Foams with Perfluorochemicals: Environmental Review
Seow, J.
Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation, 76 pp, 2013

This review and position paper discusses current issues regarding the use of fire fighting foams containing perfluorochemicals and fluorine-free foams now commercially available. Information presented in this paper has been obtained through a review of the available literature, published reports and documents, and information publicly available on the Internet as well as through information provided and shared by various agencies and industry practitioners.

Occurrence of Select Perfluoroalkyl Substances at U.S. Air Force Aqueous Film-Forming Foam Release Sites Other than Fire-Training Areas: Field-Validation of Critical Fate and Transport Properties
Anderson, R.H., G.C. Long, R.C. Porter, and J.K. Anderson.
Chemosphere 150:678-685(2016) [Abstract]

Although the occurrence of select PFASs in soil and groundwater at former fire-training areas (FTAs) at military installations operable since 1970 has been consistently confirmed, studies reporting the occurrence of PFASs at other AFFF-impacted sites (e.g., emergency response locations, AFFF lagoons, hangar-related AFFF storage tanks and pipelines, and fire station testing and maintenance areas) are largely missing from the literature. Most studies have focused on a single site (i.e., FTAs at military installations) and thus lack a comparison of sites with diverse AFFF release history. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate select PFAS occurrence at non-FTA sites on active U.S. Air Force installations with historic AFFF use of varying magnitude.

Perfluoroalkyl Substances in a Firefighting Training Ground (FTG), Distribution and Potential Future Release
Baduel, C., C.J. Paxman, and J.F. Mueller.
Journal of Hazardous Materials 296:46-53(2015) [Abstract]

The occurrence and fate of 15 PFASs and one fluorotelomer sulfonate were investigated at a firefighting training ground that was contaminated by intensive use of aqueous film-forming foams.

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Land Application of Biosolids

Application of WWTP Biosolids and Resulting Perfluorinated Compound Contamination of Surface and Well Water in Decatur, Alabama, USA
Lindstrom, A., M. Strynar, A. Delinsky, S. Nakayama, et al.
Environmental Science & Technology 45:8015-8021(2011) [Abstract; Draft Manuscript]

PFC-contaminated biosolids from a local municipal wastewater treatment facility that had received waste from local fluorochemical facilities were used as a soil amendment in local agricultural fields for as many as 12 years. Ten target PFCs were measured in surface and groundwater samples.

Adobe PDF LogoBiosolids and Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council fact sheet, 4 pp, 2022

The Biosolids and Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Fact Sheet summarizes emerging technical information about risk and management for PFAS-impacted biosolids. It also discusses significant topics where the management and use of PFAS-containing biosolids may distribute PFAS into the environment, such as land application and landfills, mobility, leaching and transport, uptake into plants and biota.

Concentrations, Distribution, and Persistence of Perfluoroalkylates in Sludge-Applied Soils near Decatur, Alabama, USA
Washington, J.W., H. Yoo, J.J. Ellington, T.M. Jenkins, and E.L. Libelo.
Environmental Science & Technology 44(22):8390-8396(2010) [Abstract]

The disappearance rate and vertical-profile distribution of perfluoroalkylates, as well as their apparent generation from fluorotelomer precursors, are examined in sludge-amended soils.

Adobe PDF LogoOccurrence and Fate of Perfluorochemicals in Soil Following the Land Application of Municipal Biosolids
Sepulvado, J.G., A.C. Blaine, L.S. Hundal, and C.P. Higgins.
Environmental Science & Technology 45(19):8106-8112(2011)

Researchers investigated the occurrence and fate of PFCs from land-applied municipal biosolids by evaluating the levels, mass balance, desorption, and transport of PFCs in soils receiving application of municipal biosolids at various loading rates.

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A Critical Review of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Landfill Disposal in the United States
Tolaymat, T., N. Robey, M. Krause, J. Larson, K. Weitz, S. Parvathikar, L. Phelps, W. Linak, S. Burden, T. Speth, and J. Krug.
Science of The Total Environment 905:167185(2023) [Abstract]

This document summarizes state and federal initiatives and critically reviews peer-reviewed literature to define best practices for managing landfill materials containing PFAS from municipal solid waste and other waste streams to identify data gaps and guide future research. The objective is to inform stakeholders about waste-derived PFAS disposed of in landfills, PFAS emissions, and the potential for related environmental impacts. The article also highlights data gaps and uncertainties concerning the fate of PFAS during landfill disposal. Few studies have attempted to estimate PFAS loading in landfills or other effluent streams such as landfill gas (LFG). In all media, the reported total PFAS heavily depends on waste types and the number of PFAS included in the analytical method. Early studies that only measured a small number of PFAS, predominantly PFAAs, likely reported a significant underestimation of total PFAS. Major findings include relationships between PFAS effluent and landfill conditions; biodegradable waste increases PFAS transformation and leaching. Based on the results of multiple studies, it is estimated that 84% of PFAS loading to MSW landfills (7.2 T total) remains in the waste mass, while 5% leaves via LFG and 11% via leachate annually.

Municipal Landfill Leachates: A Significant Source for New and Emerging Pollutants
Eggen, T., M. Moeder, and A. Arukwe.
Science of the Total Environment 408(21):5147-5157(2010) [Abstract]

Qualitative and quantitative data are reported on the occurrence of new and emerging compounds with increasing environmental and public health concern in water and particle phase of landfill leachates.

National Estimate of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance (PFAS) Release to U.S. Municipal Landfill Leachate
Lang, J.R., B.M. Allred, J.A. Field, J.W. Levis, and M.A. Barlaz.
Environmental Science & Technology (Web publication 20 Jan 2017) [Abstract]

In a survey of U.S. landfills of varying climates and waste ages, researchers measured concentrations of 70 PFASs in 95 samples of leachate. National release of PFASs was estimated by coupling measured concentrations for 19 PFASs (for which more than 50% of samples had quantifiable concentrations) with climate-specific estimates of annual leachate volumes.

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Landfill Leachate: Patterns, Time Trends, and Sources
Benskin, J.P., B. Li, M.G. Ikonomou, J.R. Grace, and L.Y. Li.
Environmental Science & Technology 46(21):11532-11540(2012) [Abstract]

Data from concentrations and isomer profiles for 24 PFASs monitored over 5 months in municipal landfill leachate were used to assess the role of perfluoroalkyl acid (PFAA) precursor degradation on changes in PFAA concentrations over time.

Release of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) from Carpet and Clothing in Model Anaerobic Landfill Reactors
Lang, J.R., B.M. Allred, G.F. Peaslee, J.A. Field, and M.A. Barlaz.
Environmental Science & Technology 50(10):5024-5032(2016) [Abstract]

Researchers monitored the concentrations of 70 PFASs in the aqueous phase of anaerobic model landfill reactors filled with carpet or clothing under biologically active and abiotic conditions.

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Wastewater Treatment

Adobe PDF LogoDistribution and Fate of Perfluoroalkyl Substances in Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants in Economically Developed Areas of China
Zhang, W., Y. Zhang, S. Taniyasu, et al.
Environmental Pollution 176:10-17(2013) [Abstract]

Researchers examined the effluent from 28 wastewater treatment plants in 11 industrial Chinese cities for PFASs.

Investigations on the Presence and Behavior of Precursors to Perfluoroalkyl Substances in the Environment as a Preparation of Regulatory Measures
Froemel, T., C. Gremmel, I.K. Dimzon, H. Weil, T.P. Knepper, and P. de Voogt.
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany. Report No. (UBA-FB) 002223/ENG, 272 pp, 2016

Investigators monitored a set of 65 PFAS congeners in a comprehensive investigation of their occurrence in wastewater treatment plants as well as in indoor air and dust.

Adobe PDF LogoMarket Research Study: PFAS in Wastewater
DOE Commercial Potential Evaluation Report, 87 pp, 2023

This report introduces the complex problem of PFAS at wastewater treatment plants and presents current and emerging methods for potential PFAS destruction. The report also discusses the wastewater treatment process in general, current methods of PFAS containment used by wastewater treatment plants, state initiatives and regulations, and themes in recent PFAS destruction research, including a survey of industry solutions that are either on the market or in the process of commercialization.

Mass Loading and Fate of Perfluoroalkyl Surfactants in Wastewater Treatment Plants
Sinclair, E. and K. Kannan.
Environmental Science & Technology 40(5):1408-1414(2006) [Abstract]

Investigators examined the fate of several PFASs at six municipal wastewater treatment plants in New York State by looking at influent, effluent, and sludge concentrations.

Adobe PDF LogoMulti-Industry Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Study - 2021 Preliminary Report
EPA Office of Water, EPA-821-R-21-004, 81 pp, 2021

This preliminary report summarizes the readily available information and data EPA's Office of Water collected and reviewed concerning industrial discharges of PFAS from five industrial point source categories: organic chemicals, plastics, and synthetic fibers (OCPSF) manufacturing; metal finishing; pulp, paper, and paperboard manufacturing; textile mills; and commercial airports. It presents EPA's estimates of the types and concentrations of PFAS, including legacy long-chain PFAS and short-chain replacement PFAS, present in wastewater discharges from these facilities. Few facilities in these industries currently have monitoring requirements, effluent limitations, or pretreatment standards for PFAS in their wastewater discharge permits. EPA identified available wastewater treatment technologies, such as activated carbon, ion exchange, and membrane filtration, that may reduce PFAS in wastewater discharges from facilities in these industrial point source categories.

Perfluorooctane Surfactants in Waste Waters, the Major Source of River Pollution
Becker, A.M., S. Gerstmann, and H. Frank.
Chemosphere 72(1):115-121(2008) [Abstract]

To assess the mass flow of PFOA and PFOS from typical wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) into surface waters, samples were collected at different stages of treatment of four WWTPs in Northern Bavaria, Germany, and from the rivers receiving the treated waste waters.

Adobe PDF LogoPFAS Results from Sampling at Biosolids Sites
Burns, J. | Northeast Conference on The Science of PFAS: Public Health & The Environment, 5-6 April, Marlborough, MA, 21 slides, 2022

Landfill leachate; wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) influent, effluent, and sludge; WWTF septage, and surface water at facilities were sampled to assess the presence and concentrations of PFAS within landfill leachate and at WWTFs that process that leachate. Results indicated that PFAS were detected in all landfill leachate, WWTF influent, effluent, and sludges/biosolids sampled. Follow-on work was conducted to assess the contribution of landfill leachate to influent and effluent concentrations of PFAS at WWTFs and the potential for PFAS contributions to the environment from WWTFs. A total of 124 influent, 136 effluent, 75 sludge, and five septage samples were collected from three closed landfills, one active landfill, and 30 WWTF facilities. Three sampling events were conducted to collect surface water samples upstream and downstream of the Montpelier WWTF discharge. The samples were analyzed by Alpha Analytical using their proprietary modified EPA 537.1 method, which incorporates isotope dilution to quantify regulated PFAS associated with drinking water quality in Vermont: PFHxS, PFHpA, PFOA, PFOS, and PFNA. Reduced PFAS concentrations between WWTF influent and effluent samples imply that sorption to sludges may be occurring. Sludges analyzed as "solids" showed no significant difference in the average five regulated PFAS concentrations at leachate-accepting facilities compared to facilities that do not accept leachate. The data collected indicated that PFAS was present in all landfill leachate and WWTF influent, effluent, and sludge tested. Relative WWTF influent and effluent PFAS concentrations were greater at facilities handling landfill leachates. The type of PFAS observed included the five regulated PFAS and several unregulated PFAS reported as replacement compounds for PFOA and PFOS. In many cases, non-regulated PFAS concentrations exceeded the five regulated PFAS concentrations. Additional information: ReportAdobe PDF Logo, All Site Documents

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