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The role of surface charge and pH changes in tropical soils on sorption behaviour of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)

Oliver, Danielle P., Li, Yasong, Orr, Ryan, Nelson, Paul, Barnes, Mary, McLaughlin, Michael J., Kookana, Rai S.
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.673 pp. 197-206
aluminum oxide, electrostatic interactions, hydrophobic bonding, iron oxides, liming, perfluorohexane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctanoic acid, sesquioxides, soil pH, sorption, tropical soils
This study investigated the effect of surface charge on the sorption of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) onto 7 tropical soils as a function of pH. The net surface charge became less negative with decreasing pH (from 7.5 to 3.5) in all soils. The rate of change in net surface charge varied from −0.6 to −2.8 (cmol/kg)/pH unit. The effect on sorption behaviour of PFASs was variable among soils. For two soils, the average sorption increased 54- and 45-fold for PFOS, 33- and 9-fold for PFOA, and 39- and 400-fold for PFHxS, across the pH range 7.5 to 3.5. Sorption in another sandier soil showed negligible change with decreasing pH. Sorption in the other soils did not change significantly until the pH decreased to approximately 5.5. The soils with high contents of sesquioxides (Fe and Al oxides) showed the most marked increase in sorption with decreasing pH. This study demonstrated that in addition to hydrophobic interactions with OC and other processes, electrostatic interactions are also important in the sorption process for these chemicals in soils. In acidic, variably charged tropical soils there is the possibility that any PFOS, PFOA or PFHxS sorbed to the soils may become desorbed if management practices (e.g. liming) raised soil pH.