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Migration mechanism and risk assessment of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the Ya'Er Lake oxidation pond area, China

Yujian He , Chang Li , Huifang Zhong , Jing Wu , Lingyi Meng , Yingjun Wang , Chunyang Liao , Yawei Wang


Received September 14, 2022,Revised , Accepted December 11, 2022, Available online December 18, 2022

Volume 36,2024,Pages 301-312

The migration mechanisms, sources, and environmental risks of 29 legacy and emerging perfluorinated and polyfluoroalkyl species present in an oxidation pond (Ya'Er Lake) were investigated for treating sewage based on the analysis of their occurrence and distribution. The concentration of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in pond area was between 0.30 and 63.2 ng/g dw (dry weight), with the overall average concentration of 8.00 ng/g dw. Notably, the PFAS concentrations in the surface sediments near the sewage outlet in Pond-1 (50.2 ng/g dw) and Pond-5 (average 15.1 ng/g dw) were 1–2 orders of magnitude higher than those in other areas. In general, the legacy PFAS, i.e., perfluorooctane sulfonic acid was considered to be the major pollutant in the polluted area, on average, accounting for 73.0% of the total concentration of PFAS pollutants. By evaluating the regional distribution of different PFAS homologs, the short-chain PFAS pollutants with lower Kow were found to migrate farther in both horizontal and vertical directions. The sewage outlets in Pond-1 and Pond-5 are the main pollution sources in polluted area and the emerging PFAS pollutants in Pond-5 have replaced the legacy PFAS pollutants as the main pollutants. Based on positive matrix factorization analysis, three main industrial sources of PFAS pollutants in the study area were identified: protective coating, fire-fighting, and food packaging sources. Moreover, the environmental risk assessment results showed that most study areas exhibited medium environmental risk (0.01 ≤ Risk quotient (RQ) < 1), indicating that the ecological environment risks in this area need further attention.

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