2017: Australia-wide assessment of perfluroalkyl substances (PFASs) in landfill leachates

Australia-wide assessment of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in landfill leachates

C. Calen, Daniel Drage, Geoffrey K Eaglesham, Simon Gran

Leachate from 27 landfills was analysed for nine perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). Five PFASs were detected ubiquitously, with perfluorohexanoate (PFHxA) the predominant PFAS (mean 1700 ng/L; range 73 − 25000 ng/L). Despite the complexity of landfill-specific factors, some general trends in PFAS concentrations were observed. Mean concentrations of eight PFASs were higher in operating landfills (or landfill cells) accepting primarily municipal waste, compared to closed municipal landfills. Landfills accepting primarily construction and demolition wastes produced leachate that had higher mean PFAS concentrations than municipal landfills. Younger landfills appeared to have a higher burden of waste containing PFASs (or their precursors), as significant relationships (p < 0.05) were observed between selected PFAS concentrations and landfill age. Increasing pH and total organic carbon (TOC) in leachate were associated with increased concentrations of several PFASs. Eight landfills discharged leachate to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Estimated masses of PFASs discharged reached a maximum of 62 g annually (PFHxA), with a national estimate reaching 31 kg (PFHxA) annually. The practise of treating leachate at WWTPs allows redistribution of PFASs between the solid and liquid waste streams, although the contribution of leachate to the total load of PFASs entering WWTPs is minor compared to domestic waste water sources.