Analysis of fluoroalkyl sulfonamide (FASA) based copolymers : An indirect source of non-polymeric PFAS

Abstract: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are an extensive group of anthropogenic compounds and are of global concern due to their negative effects on the environment and humans. Most environmental research reports non-polymeric PFAS, leading to a scarce understanding of polymeric PFAS, despite their large share on the global market.In this thesis, two fluoroalkyl sulfonamide (FASA)-based copolymers were studied to gain knowledge regarding their chemical characterization, occurrence, and fate. The main objectives were to provide analytical methods to analyze the FASA-based copolymers in sludge in relation to non-polymeric PFAS and extractable organo-fluorine (EOF) and to study their fate to the arable land when sludge is used as a fertilizer.The results revealed that the FASA-based copolymers were present in all sludge samples and their levels contributed to between 2 and 6 % of the total PFAS. Using two complementary extraction methods, both polymeric and non-polymeric PFAS were captured. However, more than 90% of the EOF belongs to unidentified origin. These results indicate the importance of extending the analysis of polymeric PFAS in environmental research.Further, elevated levels in sludge-amended soil of the C8-FASA-based copolymer were seen, illustrating sludge to be a potential source of C8-FASA-based copolymer to the environment. Both copolymers were transformed into non-polymeric PFAS in earthworms. This thesis provides evidence that these FASA-based copolymers are of concern, both as a direct emission and indirect source of non-polymeric PFAS to the environment.

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