Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), as persistent organic pollutants, are
ubiquitously present in the environment, and have been detected in human blood and breast milk at
concentrations of concern to health and environmental regulators. This project aims to identify the PFOS/PFOA
contamination sources, contaminant release mechanisms, and migration pathways from contaminated soils. Soil
samples at different depths along and perpendicular to a U.S. highway were collected, and both compounds
were regularly quantified in all of our surface soils samples (0.2–125.7 ng/g dry soil weight). The results of the
surveying and sampling program and subsequently geo-statistical modeling with the aid of a Geographic
Information System (GIS) identified two hot spots, and supported wind as the primary transport carrier causing
the mitigation of contaminated soils from the hot spots to off-site soils. The observations indicate that PFOS
and PFOA contamination is not contained to a few hot spots, but is migrating with wind and traffic to other
locations. This proposed soil-to-soil migration pathway appears to be an important and heretofore overlooked
migration mechanism of PFOS and PFOA from contaminated spots. We also studied their occurrence and fate
in subsurface soil samples, and found a general increase in concentrations with the depth at which soil samples
were collected, indicating that the contamination is also migrating toward the groundwater table.
Xiao, Feng; Gulliver, John S.; Simcik, Matt.
Transport of Perfluorochemicals to Surface and Subsurface Soils.
St. Anthony Falls Laboratory.
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