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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Phytoextraction of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and the influence of supplements on the performance of short-rotation crops

Nassazzi, Winnie; Wu, Tien-Chi; Jass, Jana; Lai, Foon Yin; Ahrens, Lutz

Abstract

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are anthropogenic compounds threatening water quality and food safety worldwide. Phytoremediation is a nature-based, cost-effective, and scalable solution with high potential for treating PFAS-contaminated sites. However, there is a large knowledge gap regarding choice of plant species and methods to enhance performance. This study assessed the PFAS phytoextraction potential of sunflower (Helianthus annuus), mustard (Brassica juncea), and industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) in a greenhouse experiment, using inorganic fertilizer and a microbial mixture as supplements. PFAS concentrations were measured using UPLC-MS/MS, and bioconcentration factors for different plant tissues and removal efficiency were determined. Perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acid (PFCA) accumulation was 0.4-360 times higher than that of perfluoroalkyl sul-fonic acid (PFSA) homologues of similar perfluorocarbon chain length. Inorganic fertilizer significantly (p < 0.001) reduced PFAS concentration in all plant tissues, whereas the microbial mixture tested did not affect PFAS concentration. PFAS uptake ranged from 0.2 to 33% per crop cycle. Overall, the potential number of crop cycles required for removal of 90% of individual PFAS ranged from six (PFPeA) to 232 (PFOA) using sunflower, 15 (PFPeA) to 466 (PFOS) using mustard and nine (PFPeA) to 420 (PFOS) using Hemp. In this study, the percentage of PFAS removal by plants was determined, and an estimation of the time required for PFAS phytoextraction was determined for the first time. This information is important for practical phytoremediation applications.

Keywords

Sunflower; Mustard; Hemp; Pollution; Phytoremediation

Published in

Environmental Pollution
2023, Volume: 333, article number: 122038
Publisher: ELSEVIER SCI LTD