Varying transport potential of cationic, zwitterionic, and anionic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) may pose challenges for remediation of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) impacted sites, particularly during groundwater extraction. Slow desorption of stronger sorbing, zwitterionic, and cationic PFASs may cause extended remediation times and rebound in aqueous PFAS concentrations. Persulfate oxidation has the potential to convert a complex mixture of PFASs into a simpler and more recoverable mixture of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs). AFFF-impacted soils were treated with heat-activated persulfate in batch reactors and subjected to 7-day leaching experiments. Soil and water were analyzed using a combination of targeted and high resolution liquid chromatography mass spectrometry techniques as well as the total oxidizable precursors assay. Following oxidation, total PFAS composition showed the expected shift to a higher fraction of PFAAs, and this led to higher total PFAS leaching in pretreated reactors (108-110%) vs control reactors (62-90%). In both pretreated and control soils, precursors that remained following leaching experiments were 61-100% cationic and zwitterionic. Results suggest that persulfate pretreatment of soils has promise as an enhanced recovery technique for remediation of total PFASs in impacted soils. They also demonstrate that PFAS distribution may have been altered at sites where in situ chemical oxidation was applied to treat co-occurring contaminants of concern.
- chemical oxidation