Xiao F. Emerging poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances in the aquatic environment: A review of current literature. Water research 2017 Jul 15;124:482-495. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2017.07.024.
Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) comprise a group of synthetic organic surfactants with a wide range of industrial and commercial applications. A few PFASs such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) are now known to be ubiquitously present in the aquatic environment. They have become a global concern because of the toxicity and bioaccumulative properties. With the increasing availability of high-resolution mass spectrometers, many novel PFASs have been identified. Studies published between 2009 and 2017 have discovered 455 new PFASs (including nine fully and 446 partially fluorinated compounds), 45%, 29%, 17%, and 8% of which are anions, zwitterions, cations, and neutrals, respectively. They have been identified in natural waters, fish, sediments, wastewater, activated sludge, soils, aqueous film-forming foams, and commercial fluoropolymer surfactants. This article integrates and critically evaluates what is known about these newly identified PFASs. It discusses the different aspects of detection methodologies. It also surveys the removal of these compounds during conventional and advanced drinking-water and wastewater treatment, predicts the relevant physicochemical properties by means of four software programs, and identifies major knowledge gaps. Notably, a number of these newly identified PFASs are potential precursor compounds of PFOS and PFOA. Studies are critically needed to understand the removal and transformation of these compounds in natural and engineered environmental systems and their contribution, if any, to the secondary formation of PFOS and PFOA in these systems.