The Water Research Foundation has issued an RFP for its Occurrence of PFAS Compounds in U.S. Wastewater Treatment Plants initiative.
Per- and plyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of anthropogenic chemicals used in industrial processes and consumer products to produce polymers. A few PFAS such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) occur ubiquitously in the aquatic environment, biota, and humans. PFAS enter waters through point sources (e.g., wastewater treatment plants, industrial emissions from PFAS production sites, commercial and military airports, and landfills that contain PFAS-contaminated waste) as well as non-point sources (e.g., urban stormwater, agricultural runoff, and atmospheric deposition).
Because they are used in a wide variety of consumer care products, PFAS have been found in wastewater treatment plant influent and effluent, with municipal wastewater effluents and biosolids now being viewed as potential sources of PFAS to the aquatic environment. During wastewater treatment, polyfluoroalkyl compounds (often called precursors) can degrade into perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAAs). However, due to their chemical nature, PFAAs are not efficiently removed during conventional wastewater and sludge treatment processes. Thus, the release of treated effluent as well as the widespread land application of biosolids, provide an opportunity for re-release of PFAS into receiving environments. In 2003, a total of 7.18 million tons (dry weight) of biosolids were generated in the U.S., with approximately 55 percent being land applied. Therefore, land-applied biosolids represent a potentially large and significant source of PFAS into the environment. To date, limited studies have investigated the fate of PFAS compounds during wastewater treatment processes, but the occurrence, fate, and behavior of PFAS in wastewater plants is largely unknown.
Under the RFP, grants of up to $250,000 will be awarded to evaluate PFAS occurrence in U.S. wastewater treatment plants and determine the fate of PFAS compounds during wastewater treatment.
Domestic and international entities, including educational institutions, research organizations, governmental agencies, and consultants or other for-profit entities, are eligible to apply for a grant.
See the Water Research Foundation website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.