Loss and in situ production of perfluoroalkyl chemicals in outdoor biosolids-soil mesocosms

Arjun K. Venkatesan, Rolf U. Halden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


An outdoor mesocosm study was conducted in Baltimore, Maryland, to explore the fate of thirteen perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) over the course of three years in biosolids/soil mixtures (1:2) exposed to ambient outdoor conditions. Analysis by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry showed perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) to be the most abundant analyte found early in the soil weathering experiment at 24.1ng/g dry weight (dw), followed by perfluoroundecanoate (PFUnDA) and perfluorodecanoate (PFDA) at 18.4 and 17.4ng/g dw, respectively. Short-chain perfluorinated carboxylates (PFCAs; C4-C8) showed observable loss from biosolids/soil mixtures, with experimentally determined first-order half-lives in soil ranging from 385 to 866 days. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorononaoate (PFNA) and PFUnDA levels in biosolids/soil mixtures remained stable, while other long-chain PFCAs [PFDA, perfluorododecanoate (PFDoDA)] and perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA) levels increased over time, presumably due to the breakdown of unidentified precursors in a process analogous to that reported previously for wastewater treatment plants. This study informs risk assessment initiatives by furnishing data on the environmental persistence of PFASs while also constituting the first report on in situ production of long-chained PFASs in terrestrial environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-327
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


  • Biosolids
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Environmental fate
  • Half-life
  • Perfluoroalkyl chemicals


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