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Emission of poly and perfluoroalkyl substances, UV-filters and siloxanes to air from wastewater treatment plants

Shoeib, Mahiba, Schuster, Jasmin, Rauert, Cassandra, Su, Ky, Smyth, Shirley-Anne, Harner, Tom
Environmental pollution 2016 v.218 pp. 595-604
UV filters, activated sludge, aeration, air, alcohols, carboxylic acids, emissions, foams, models, perfluorocarbons, polyurethanes, rural areas, samplers, siloxanes, sulfonamides, sulfonic acid, summer, temperature, towns, urban areas, volatilization, wastewater, wastewater treatment, watersheds
The potential of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) to act as sources of poly and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), volatile methyl siloxanes (VMSs) and organic UV-filters to the atmosphere was investigated. Target compounds included: PFASs (fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs), perfluorooctane sulfonamides/sulfonamidoethanols (FOSAs/FOSEs), perfluroalkyl sulfonic acids (PFSAs) and perfluroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs)), cyclic VMSs (D3 to D6), linear VMSs (L3 to L5) and eight UV-filters. Emissions to air were assessed at eight WWTPs using paired sorbent-impregnated polyurethane foam passive air samplers, deployed during summer 2013 and winter 2014. Samplers were deployed on-site above the active tank and off-site as a reference. Several types of WWTPs were investigated: secondary activated sludge in urban areas (UR-AS), secondary extended aeration in towns (TW-EA) and facultative lagoons in rural areas (RU-LG). The concentrations of target compounds in air were ∼1.7–35 times higher on-site compared to the corresponding off-site location. Highest concentrations in air were observed at UR-AS sites while the lowest were at RU-LG. Higher air concentrations (∼2–9 times) were observed on-site during summer compared to winter, possibly reflecting enhanced volatilization due to higher wastewater temperatures or differences in influent wastewater concentrations. A significant positive correlation was obtained between concentrations in air and WWTP characteristics (influent flow rate and population in the catchment of the WWTP); whereas a weak negative correlation was obtained with hydraulic retention time. Emissions to air were estimated using a simplified dispersion model. Highest emissions to air were seen at the UR-AS locations. Emissions to air (g/year/tank) were highest for VMSs (5000–112,000) followed by UV-filters (16–2000) then ΣPFASs (10–110).