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Perfluorooctane Sulphonate and Perfluorooctanoic Acid in Drinking and Environmental Waters

Paul C. Rumsby, Clare L. McLaughlin and Tom Hall
Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Vol. 367, No. 1904, Emerging Chemical Contaminants in Water and Wastewater (Oct. 13, 2009), pp. 4119-4136
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40485712
Page Count: 18
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Perfluorooctane Sulphonate and Perfluorooctanoic Acid in Drinking and Environmental Waters
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Abstract

Perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are chemicals that have been used for many years as surfactants in a variety of industrial and consumer products. Owing to their persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) characteristics, PFOS has been phased out by its principal producer and the use of PFOA has been reduced. This PBT potential and a number of pollution incidents have led in recent years to an increase in studies surveying the concentrations of PFOS and PFOA in environmental waters worldwide. This paper reviews the results of these studies, as well as the monitoring that was conducted after the pollution incidents. The results of surveys suggest that PFOS and PFOA are found in environmental waters worldwide at low levels. In general, these levels are below health-based values set by international authoritative bodies for drinking water. There have been limited measurements of these chemicals in drinking water, but again these are below health-based values, except in some cases following pollution incidents. Monitoring studies suggested that where PFOS and PFOA were detected, they were at similar levels in both source and drinking water, suggesting that drinking water treatment does not remove these chemicals. However, new data show that PFOS and PFOA are effectively removed by granular activated carbon absorbers in practice. Further research is required on the newer perfluorinated chemicals that appear to be safer, but their degradation products have not as yet been fully studied.

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