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Sorption of perfluoroalkyl substances in sewage sludge


The sorption behaviour of three perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS)) was studied in sewage sludge samples. Sorption isotherms were obtained by varying initial concentrations of PFOS, PFOA and PFBS. The maximum values of the sorption solid–liquid distribution coefficients (Kd,max) varied by almost two orders of magnitude among the target PFASs: 140–281 mL g−1 for PFOS, 30–54 mL g−1 for PFOA and 9–18 mL g−1 for PFBS. Freundlich and linear fittings were appropriate for describing the sorption behaviour of PFASs in the sludge samples, and the derived KF and Kd,linear parameters correlated well. The hydrophobicity of the PFASs was the key parameter that influenced their sorption in sewage sludge. Sorption parameters and log(KOW) were correlated, and for PFOS (the most hydrophobic compound), pH and Ca + Mg status of the sludge controlled the variation in the sorption parameter values. Sorption reversibility was also tested from desorption isotherms, which were also linear. Desorption parameters were systematically higher than the corresponding sorption parameters (up to sixfold higher), thus indicating a significant degree of irreversible sorption, which decreased in the sequence PFOS > PFOA > PFBS.

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This research was funded by the Spanish government (CICYT, contracts CTM 2008–01147/TECNO and CTM 2011–27211) and the Generalitat de Catalunya (2009SGR1188). Jelena Milinovic thanks the Catalan government for a PhD fellowship (2010FI_B 00513). We thank Cristian Gómez, Roser Chaler and Dori Fanjul for the assistance with the LC-MS/MS analysis.

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Correspondence to Anna Rigol.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Milinovic, J., Lacorte, S., Rigol, A. et al. Sorption of perfluoroalkyl substances in sewage sludge. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 8339–8348 (2016).

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  • Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid
  • Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid
  • Sewage sludge
  • Sorption
  • Desorption