Sorption of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances and their precursors on activated carbon under realistic drinking water conditions: Insights into sorbent variability and PFAS structural effects
“Recent stringent drinking water quality standards create challenges for water utilities to meet these standards. Advanced treatment techniques will have to be applied on many drinking water production locations to meet these quality standards. This study investigated the sorption of per- and polyfluorinated-alkyl substances (PFAS) onto granular activated carbon (GAC). The study was performed at environmentally relevant PFAS concentrations and a realistic water-to-GAC ratio, providing a realism often overlooked in existing studies. Three different forms of GAC were evaluated, differing in micropore and mesopore structures. Tap water spiked with 5 ng/L of each of 31 PFAS was used in the sorption experiments, i.e. perfluorocarboxylic acids (C4–C12), perfluorosulfonic acids (PFSA, C5–C10) including linear and branched isomers, and three groups of PFAS precursors (per-/polyfluoroalkyl ether acids, sulfonamides, and sulfonamide acetic acids).
The three studied GAC did not exhibit distinct differences in PFAS sorption. The removal of PFAS was below 50 % for most studied PFAS, except for the short-chain PFAS precursors. Sorption was affected by both the carbon chain length and functional groups for PFAS, while this was not observed for PFAS precursors. The presence of ether linkages and sulfonamide groups notably enhanced sorption. Linear and branched PFSA demonstrated similar sorption behavior, whereas branched isomers of the sulfonamide acetic acid precursors exhibited significantly higher sorption. This indicates that sorption was determined by both hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions.
Given the relatively low PFAS removal by GAC under environmentally relevant test conditions, further improvements in sorbents are required to ensure that PFAS concentrations in produced drinking water comply with drinking water standards.”
(Citation: Sadia, M., Beut, L.B., Pranić, M., et.al. – Sorption of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances and their precursors on activated carbon under realistic drinking water conditions: Insights into sorbent variability and PFAS structural effects – Heliyon 10 (2024)3, e25130 – DOI: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2024.e25130 – (Open Acess))
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