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Evaluating perfluorooctanesulfonate oxidation in permanganate systems

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Permanganate (PM) has shown to be able to oxidize a range of organic contaminants including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). However, mechanisms of PFOS removal by PM have been questioned. To provide clarity to what may be happening to PFOS in PM systems, here we evaluated the ability of PM on PFOS destruction by conducting studies similar to previous studies that reported PFOS destruction which included PM solutions and PM combined with persulfate (PS). We also evaluated if addition of various soluble catalysts could enhance PM’s potential to breakdown PFOS. We observed no PFOS destruction by PM. We also show that the F and SO42− generation reported in a published study as evidence that PM was breaking bonds in PFOS were found below or not significantly higher than reported limits of quantitation and that SO42− impurities in technical PM approach the reported SO42− levels. For PM-PS systems, heterogeneous PFOS distribution was observed when subsampling reaction vessels at different depths and “salting-out” of PFOS was evident. In addition, subsequent sonication and filtering of the samples led to the apparent disappearance of most of the PFOS, which was an artifact arising from the behavior of PFOS aggregates or potential hemi-micelle formation. Given these findings, addition of salts may have application for collecting or concentrating PFOS and other PFAAs in a remediation or water treatment strategy.

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This work was funded by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (ER-2426), the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch Funds Accession No. 1006516 and by the Korea Ministry of Environment Research Project (2018002440006).

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Correspondence to Linda S. Lee.

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Park, S., Lee, L.S., Ross, I. et al. Evaluating perfluorooctanesulfonate oxidation in permanganate systems. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-07803-7

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  • PFOS
  • Persulfate
  • Permanganate
  • Oxidation
  • Salting-out
  • Sulfate impurities