Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019NJ183B

Biotic and abiotic transformation of fluorotelomer carboxylic acids during wastewater treatment processes

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-05-31 End Date: 2020-05-30
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,000

Principal Investigators: Chen Wu

Abstract: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have attracted increasing attention in NJ and other states in the US given their potent carcinogenicity, extreme persistence, and high mobility. PFAS have been widely detected in municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), perceived as point sources that consistently release PFAS to the aqueous environment. Even worse, local landfill facilities collect leachates that are commonly containing concentrated PFAS and discharge at WWTPs for treatment. However, it is still unknown regarding the contribution of landfill leachates to the release of PFAS at WWTPs. This project focuses on fluorotelomer carboxylic acids (FTCAs) as they have been found as the dominant PFAS constitutes (~ 50%) in landfill leachates and may pose significant exposure risks to aquacultures and human. We aim to comprehensively investigate the biotransformation of FTCAs during the treatment with activated sludge and denitrifying digestion and their susceptibility to disinfection processes (e.g., chlorine and UV). Biotic and abiotic degradation kinetics and products will be evaluated using advanced mass spectrometry approaches. Cyto- and geno-toxicity of FTCAs and their degradation products will be compared using both bacterial and human cells. Response of microbial communities to FTCAs will be unveiled using high-throughput next generation sequencing. This study will gain a fundamental and comprehensive understanding of the fate of FTCAs once they are released to the WWTPs and uncover their potential impacts to the environment and local residents.