Per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been shown to be ubiquitous in the environment, and one issue of critical concern is the leaching of PFAS from soil to groundwater. The risk posed by contaminants present in soil is often assessed in terms of the anticipated impact to groundwater through the determination of soil screening levels (SSLs). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a soil screening model for determining SSLs. However, the model does not consider the unique retention properties of PFAS and, consequently, the SSLs established with the model may not represent the actual levels that are protective of groundwater quality. The objective of this work is to revise the standard EPA SSL model to reflect the unique properties and associated retention behavior of PFAS. Specifically, the distribution parameter used to convert soil porewater concentrations to soil concentrations is revised to account for adsorption at the air-water interface. Example calculations conducted for PFOS and PFOA illustrate the contrasting SSLs obtained with the revised and standard models. A comparison of distribution parameters calculated for a series of PFAS of different chain length shows that the significance of air-water interfacial adsorption can vary greatly as a function of the specific PFAS. Therefore, the difference between SSLs calculated with the revised versus standard models will vary as a function of the specific PFAS, with greater differences typically observed for longer-chain PFAS. It is anticipated that this revised model will be useful for developing improved SSLs that can be used to enhance site investigations and management for PFAS-impacted sites. Synopsis: The widely used EPA SSL model is revised for PFAS applications to account for adsorption at the air-water interface.
- Soil contamination
- Transport and fate
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry
- Environmental Engineering
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
- Waste Management and Disposal