Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances in Runoff Water and Wastewater Sampled at a Firefighter Training Area
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are key ingredients of firefighting foams designed to suppress fires involving flammable and combustible liquids. Such foams are used by firefighters during fire training at dedicated sites. Because PFASs are very persistent chemicals, substantial soil and groundwater contamination has been observed in the vicinity of firefighter training areas. However, very few data are available on PFAS contamination of wastewater and runoff water on such sites. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of more than 50 PFASs in 43 water samples (effluent from a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), lagoon, runoff water, and wastewater drained from firefighter training areas) collected from a large firefighter training site, using target and suspect screening. A comparison of the PFAS classes analyzed revealed the overwhelming contribution of fluorotelomers. This indicates that the PFAS emission from the use of firefighting foams cannot be monitored only by measuring perfluoroalkyl acids. Based on the PFAS concentrations measured through target screening, the PFAS mass discharged into the river receiving WWTP effluent and the lagoon was on average 387 ± 183 kg and 56 ± 15 kg per year respectively. Due to the unavailability of standards, it was impossible to take into account the PFASs detected with suspect screening. The present study emphasizes that, above and beyond soil and groundwater contamination, such sites also contribute to the PFAS burden of surface water.
The authors thank the managers of the firefighter training site and the French Ministry of Health (DGS 216) for supporting this study. We are grateful to Delphine Libby-Claybrough for helpful insights on the manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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