Transport of PFOS in aquifer sediment: Transport behavior and a distributed-sorption model

Yake Wang, Naima Khan, Dandan Huang, Kenneth C. Carroll, Mark L. Brusseau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The objectives of this research were to examine the transport of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in aquifer sediment comprising different geochemical properties, and to compare the behavior to that observed for PFOS transport in soil and sand. PFOS retardation was relatively low for transport in all aquifer media. The PFOS breakthrough curves were asymmetrical and exhibited extensive concentration tailing, indicating that sorption/desorption was significantly nonideal. The results of model simulations indicated that rate-limited sorption/desorption was the primary cause of the nonideal PFOS transport. Comparison of PFOS transport in aquifer media to data reported for PFOS transport in two soils and a quartz sand showed that PFOS exhibited more extensive elution tailing for the soils, likely reflecting differences in the relative contributions of various media constituents to sorption. A three-component distributed-sorption model was developed that accounted for contributions from soil organic carbon, metal oxides, and silt + clay fraction. The model produced very good predictions of Kd for the five media with lower soil organic‑carbon contents (≤0.1%). Soil organic carbon was estimated to contribute 19–42% of the total sorption for all media except the sand, to which it contributed ~100%. The contribution of silt + clay ranged from 51 to 80% for all media except the sand. The only medium for which the contribution of metal-oxides was significant is Hanford, with an estimated contribution of 15%. Overall, the results of the study indicate that sorption of PFOS by these aquifer media comprised contributions from multiple soil constituents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number146444
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jul 20 2021


  • PFAS
  • Perfluoroalkyl substances
  • Retardation
  • Sorption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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