Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been used in a variety of consumer and industrial products and are known to accumulate in sewage sludge due to sorption and their recalcitrant nature. Treatment processes ensure safe and high-quality biosolids by reducing the potential for adverse environmental impacts such as pathogen levels; however, they have yet to be evaluated for their impact on the fate of PFAS. The objective of this study was to compare PFAS concentrations in four commercially available biosolid-based products that received different types of treatments: heat treatment, composting, blending, and thermal hydrolysis. Seventeen perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) were quantified using liquid chromatography with tandem quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry followed by screening for 30 PFAA precursors. Treatment processes did not reduce PFAA loads except for blending, which served only to dilute concentrations. Several PFAA precursors were identified with 6:2 and 8:2 fluorotelomer phosphate diesters in all samples pre- and post-treatment. Practitioner points: Heat treatment and composting increased perfluoroalkyl acid (PFAA) concentrations. Only dilution from blending with non-PFAS material decreased PFAA concentrations. Thermal hydrolysis process had no apparent effect on PFAA concentrations. PFAS sources are a greater driver of PFAS loads in biosolid-based products than treatment processes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Ecological Modeling
- Water Science and Technology
- Waste Management and Disposal