Perfluoroalkyl phosphonic acids adsorption behaviour and removal by wastewater organisms

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Sep 15;636:273-281. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.04.271. Epub 2018 Apr 27.


In this study we have experimentally assessed different physicochemical parameters such as the distribution constant between octanol - water and between water and sludge for three perfluoroakyl substances (PFASs) widely used in waxes and coating materials: perfluorohexane (PFHxPA), perfluorooctane (PFOPA) and perfluorodecane (PFDPA) phosphonic acids. Distribution coefficients were assessed based on the procedures described in the OECD guideline 123 for partition coefficients while the studies of adsorption-desorption in sludge based on the indirect method of the OECD guideline 106. Besides, the removal behaviour of selected compounds has been evaluated using the green algae Desmodesmus subspicatus and microorganisms present in an effluent wastewater. These last experiments were carried out using laboratory scale bioreactors under aerobic conditions according to the OECD guideline 309. The main results of this study showed the resistance to biodegradation of selected compounds by both treatments, <5% was eliminated using D. subspicatus and similar results were obtained by aerobic degradation with wastewater microorganisms. However, it was observed that PFDPA induced changes in algae colour while it was detected to be accumulated in a floccula generated by the microorganisms present in wastewater. According to distribution coefficients the three compounds have values of logDow below 3, indicating their capability to be present in both phases. Finally, the results of the adsorption/desorption experiments showed that PFOPA and PFDPA reach the equilibrium after 10 days of contact with a sorption percentage higher than 40% and 70%, respectively.

Keywords: Adsorption in sludge; Green algae biodegradation; Perfluoroalkyl phosphonic acids; Removal by wastewater.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Phosphorous Acids
  • Sewage
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / methods
  • Waste Water / chemistry
  • Waste Water / microbiology*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / chemistry*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism


  • Fluorocarbons
  • Phosphorous Acids
  • Sewage
  • Waste Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical