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Historical usage of aqueous film forming foam: A case study of the widespread distribution of perfluoroalkyl acids from a military airport to groundwater, lakes, soils and fish
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Applied Environmental Science (ITM).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2131-4418
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2014 (English)In: Chemosphere, ISSN 0045-6535, E-ISSN 1879-1298, Vol. 129, 39-45 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Historical usage of aqueous film forming foams (AFFFs) at military airports is a potential source of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) to the nearby environment. In this study, the distribution of perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in soil, groundwater, surface water, tap water well, and fish muscle was investigated at a closed down military airfield (F18) and its surroundings in Stockholm, Sweden. The presence of PFOS at AFFF training sites was inventoried.

One major finding of the study is that a former airfield, abandoned since 1994, may still be a point source of PFAAs to nearby recipients. PFOS and PFOA were ubiquitous in the soil samples at former AFFF training sites with concentrations ranging from 2.18 to 8520 ng g−1 dry weight and <0.12–287 ng g−1 dry weight respectively. The sum of PFAAs in the groundwater and surface waters ranged from 738 to 51 000 ng L−1 and <MDL to 79.0 ng L−1, respectively. PFOS in European perch ranged from 76.5 to 370 ng g−1 wet weight muscle tissue which is among the highest previously reported worldwide. Our results provide evidence that the historical use of AFFF at the site have contaminated an aquifer (7500 m3 d−1), that will require constant PFAA purification before being used for drinking water production. Despite the fact that the water turnover time in the investigated recipients (of 4–6 months) suggest a depletion of PFAA-contaminants over a quarter of a decade, abandoned airfields may still pose an environmental and human health concern.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 129, 39-45 p.
Keyword [en]
Aqueous film forming foam, PFAAs, PFOS, Surface water, Ground water, Fish muscle
Keyword [sv]
Brandsläckningsskum, PFAAs, PFOS, Ytvatten, Grundvatten, Fisk muskelvävnad
National Category
Chemical Sciences
Research subject
Applied Environmental Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-113017DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.09.005ISI: 000353732600006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-113017DiVA: diva2:782396
Available from: 2015-01-21 Created: 2015-01-21 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Fate of perfluoroalkyl acids in the aquatic environment with a focus on mass balance studies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fate of perfluoroalkyl acids in the aquatic environment with a focus on mass balance studies
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are man-made chemicals. Their unique properties make them beneficial for a wide range of industrial and consumer product applications, such as in aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), durable water repellent clothing, hydraulic oils and food packaging materials. Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), a class of PFASs, are highly persistent in the environment, and long chain PFAAs are bioaccumulative and toxic. International regulation and voluntary actions by the industry have been implemented and led to a recent reduction of primary emissions of PFAAs to the environment. However, point sources such as AFFF training sites as well as diffuse sources continue to contaminate water bodies, soil and biota. Reducing environmental pollution with PFAAs has therefore become a regulatory priority. Designing successful measures to reduce the PFAA contamination requires an understanding of the sources, transport and fate of PFAAs in the environment.

Four scientific publications are included in this PhD thesis, which aimed at increasing the holistic understanding of the fate of PFAAs in aquatic systems. This was achieved by chemical trace analysis combined with mass balance modeling. The following topics were covered: Dispersion and fate of PFAAs from an AFFF-impacted site (Paper I), recirculation of PFAAs in the aquatic environment with focus on waste water treatment plants (WWTPs, Paper II), mass balance of PFAAs in the Baltic Sea (Paper III) and transport and fate of PFAAs in two pristine boreal stream catchments (Paper IV).

Results from Paper I showed that AFFF-impacted sites at a former military airfield, which was abandoned for more than 30 years, continue to be point sources of PFAAs to recipients. The sum of PFAAs in the ground water and surface waters ranged from 740 to 51000 ng L-1 and <0.5 to 79 ng L-1, respectively. PFOS in muscle tissue of European perch from a nearby lake ranged from 77 to 370 ng g-1 wet weight, representing among the highest values reported worldwide for fish muscle. In Paper II the relative importance of environmental recirculation of PFAAs versus new releases from the technosphere was investigated for PFAAs in WWTP influents. It was shown that tap water can be an important source of PFAAs to WWTPs in areas with elevated environmental levels. This needs to be taken into account when calculating emissions via WWTP effluents. PFAA mass balances over the WWTPs suggested that PFHxA and PFOA were formed from precursor compounds within the plants. Assembled PFAA mass balances for the Baltic Sea (Paper III) showed that river inflow and atmospheric deposition were the dominant input pathways, while wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents discharging directly into the Baltic Sea made a minor contribution. The inputs of PFAAs were estimated to be higher than the outputs, suggesting a current increase of the PFAA inventory in the Baltic Sea. Also the mass balance study of PFAAs in two remote stream catchments presented in Paper IV revealed that inputs dominated over outputs for both catchments, indicating that a considerable portion of the PFAAs deposited from the atmosphere is retained in soil or in deep ground water and may be released to surface and marine water environments in the future

Abstract [hr]

Perfluoralkilne tvari (PFASs) su umjetne kemikalije. Zbog svojih jedinstvenih svojstava široko su primjenjive u industriji i izradi proizvoda krajnje potrošnje kao što su pjena za gašenje požara (AFFF), vodootporna odjeća, hidraulična ulja i pakiranja za hranu. Perfluoralkilna kiselina (PFAAs) iz skupine perfluoralkilnih tvari iznimno je dugotrajna u okolišu, a dugolančane PFAAs su bioakumulativne i otrovne. Poduzeta međunarodna regulativa i dobrovoljne akcije vodile su nedavno smanjenoj primarnoj emisiji PFAAs u okoliš. Unatoč tome, primarni izvori, kao što su mjesta na kojima se provode treninzi za gašenje požara i difuzni izvori i dalje zagađuju vode, tlo i biotu. Zbog toga, smanjenje onečišćenja okoliša izazvanog PFAAs predstavlja regulatorni prioritet. Stvaranje uspješnih mjera kojima bi se smanjilo onečišćenje izazvano PFAAs zahtjeva razumijevanje izvora, prijenosa i sudbine tih tvari u okolišu.

U ovaj doktorat uključena su četiri znanstvena članka kojima je cilj povećati sveukupno razumijevanje sudbine PFAAs u vodenim sustavima. To je postignuto kemijskom analizom elemenata u tragovima u kombinaciji s modeliranjem masene ravnoteže. Obrađene su sljedeće teme: Širenje i sudbina PFAAs na područjima zahvaćenim AFFF (Članak I), ponovna cirkulacija PFAAs u vodenom okolišu s naglaskom na postrojenja za pročišćavanje otpadnih voda (Članak II), masena ravnoteža PFAAs u Baltičkom moru (Članak III) te prijenos i sudbina PFAAs u dva udaljena sjeverna vodena toka (Članak IV).

 

Rezultati iz Članka I pokazali su da su područja zahvaćena AFFF na bivšem vojnom aerodromu napuštenom prije 30 godina i dalje je glavni izvor PFAA zagadenja okolisa. Zbroj PFAAs u podzemnim i površinskim vodama kreće se u rasponu od 740 do 51000 ng L-1 i <0.5 do 79 ng L-1. PFOS u mišićnom tkivu grgeča iz obližnjeg jezera kreće se od 77 do 370 ng g-1 mokre težine, predstavljajući jednu od najviših vrijednosti u svijetu za riblje mišiće. Članak II istražuje relativnu važnost ponovne cirkulacije PFAAs imajući na umu novu emisiju PFAAs iz tehnosfere u postrojenjima za pročišćavanje otpadnih voda. Cirkulacija/kruženje u okolišu može se pojaviti kada PFAAs iz sustava pitke voda (rijeka, bunara i jezera) odlaze u otpadne vode.

Prikazano je kako voda iz slavine može biti važan izvor PFAAs sustavima za pročišćavanje otpadnih voda u područjima s povišenim razinama zaštite okoliša. To se treba uzeti u obzir pri računanju emisije putem strojeva koji se koriste za pročišćenje otpadnih voda. Masena ravnoteža PFAA u postrojenjima za pročišćavanje otpadnih voda upućuje na to da su PFHxA i PFOA stvoreni kao prethodni spojevi unutar postrojenja. Prikupljene masene ravnoteže PFAA za Baltičko more (Članak III) pokazale su da su pritoke rijeka i atmosfersko taloženje dominantni ulazni putovi, dok postrojenja za pročišćenje otpadnih voda pridonose tek u manjoj mjeri. Ulaz PFAAs je procijenjen višim od izlaza, što objašnjava trenutno povećanje sadržaja PFAA u Baltičkom moru. Masena ravnoteža PFAAs u dva udaljena riječna toka predstavljena u Članku IV otkriva da ulaz dominira nad izlazom za oba riječna toka, što upućuje na značajan udio PFAAs koji je iz atmosfere zadržan u tlu ili podzemnim vodama te može biti ispušten u područja površinskih voda i mora.

Abstract [sv]

Perfluorerade alkylsyror (PFAA) är kemikalier som är producerade av människan. Deras unika egenskaper gör att de kan användas i många olika industriella applikationer. PFAAs används i brandsläckningsskum, vattenavvisande kläder, hydrauliska oljor och matförpackningar.

PFAAs har visat sig vara persistenta i miljön, och långkedjiga PFAA-homologer har visat sig vara bioackumulerbara samt ha en toxisk verkan. Reglering på internationell nivå tillsammans med initiativ från industrin har lett till minskning av direkta utsläpp. Punktkällor som brandövningsplatser samt andra diffusa källor fortsätter att förorena omgivande vattendrag, jordlager och fauna. Den utbredda föroreningen av PFAAs har därför blivit prioriterad för reglering. För att förstå utsläppen av PFAAs i miljön, hur de transporteras samt deras öde i miljön, är det viktigt att utföra studier som belyser dessa områden.

 

Denna doktorsavhandling inkluderar fyra vetenskapliga publikationer. Syftet med de underliggande studierna var att öka den holistiska förståelsen av PFAAs rörelse i akvatiska system. Studierna gjordes genom att kombinera kemiska analysmetoder med modellering. Följande  studier genomfördes; Transport och spridning av PFAAs från en brandövningsplats (Paper I), recyklering av PFAAs i den akvatiska miljön med fokus på vattenreningsverk (Paper II), massbalans av PFAAs i Östersjön (Paper III), transport och öde av PFAAs i två pristina vattendrag (Paper IV).

 

Resultat från (Paper I) visade att brandövningsplatser vid en flygplats som inte har varit i bruk i mer än 30 år, fortfarande är punktkällor av PFAAs till omgivande vattendrag. Summan av PFAAs koncentrationer i grundvattnet och ytvattnet sträckte sig från 740 till 51000 ng L-1 och <0.5 till 79 ng L-1 i respektive vattendrag. Koncentrationen av PFOS i muskelvävnad från  aborre i en av sjöarna var 77 till 370 ng g-1 våtvikt. Dessa värden representerar några av de högsta uppmätta koncentrationerna i världen. I Paper II testades betydelsen av PFAAs från recirkulering i miljön i jämförelse med nya utsläpp från teknosfären. Recirkulering av PFAAs i miljön kan förekomma då PFAAs i inkommande vatten till reningsverk kommer från dricksvatten.

Denna studie visar att dricksvatten kan vara en påtaglig källa av PFAAs till vattenreningsverk i områden med förhöjda halter av PFAAs i miljön. Detta måste tas hänsyn till när man beräknar emissioner med utgående vatten från vattenreningsverk. Massbalanser av PFAAs i reningsverken visar att PFHxA och PFOA bildades av prekursorämnen i vattenreningsverken. I Paper III beräknades massbalanserna av PFAAs i Östersjön, beräkningarna visar att floder och atmosfärisk nedebörd var de viktigaste källorna medan utsläppen från vattenreningsverk var markant lägre. Importen av PFAAs estimerades vara högre än exporten, varför vi tror att PFAAs mängden I Östersjön kommer att öka över tid. Vidare gjordes en mass balans av PFAAs i två avlägsna avrinningsområden (Paper IV). Resultaten visar att importen av PFAAs dominerar över exporten från båda avrinningsområdena. Detta indikerar att en stor del av PFAAs som kommer ner via nederbörd kommer att ansamlas i jorden eller i grundvattnet. Dessa PFAAs kan vid senare tillfälle komma att släppas ut till floder som rinner ut i marina vatten.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, 2015. 35 p.
Keyword
PFAA, PFOS, AFFF, tap water, ground water, WWTP, mass balance, atmospheric deposition, rivers, Baltic Sea
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Applied Environmental Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-116228 (URN)978-91-7649-153-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-05-22, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript.

 

Available from: 2015-04-28 Created: 2015-04-15 Last updated: 2015-04-28Bibliographically approved

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