Perfluoroalkyl substances and brominated flame retardants in landfill-related air, soil, and groundwater from Ireland

Stuart Harrad, Daniel Drage, Martin Sharkey, Harald Berresheim

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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Between November 2018 and January 2019, samples of air and soil were collected from locations downwind and upwind of 10 landfills across the Republic of Ireland. Samples of groundwater (n = 10) were also collected from locations with links traceable to the studied landfills. Concentrations of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), hexabromocyclodecane (HBCDD), and decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE) determined in air and soil samples were not significantly different (p > 0.05) between downwind and upwind locations. The arithmetic mean concentration of PFOA in groundwater sourced from landfills (n = 4) that were not fully lined (69 ng/L) exceeded that in groundwater samples sourced from lined landfills (n = 6; 4.1 ng/L), with the difference, however being not statistically significant (p > 0.1). A positive correlation (p = 0.014) was observed between concentrations of PFOA in groundwater in our study and those reported previously in leachate from the same landfills. However, this correlation was driven substantially by one landfill which displayed the highest concentrations in both groundwater and leachate and no significant correlation (p > 0.1) was observed between log-transformed concentrations of PFOA in groundwater and leachate. DBDPE was detected in groundwater for the first time anywhere, in all samples at concentrations (median = 9.4 ng/L; arithmetic mean = 78 ng/L) that exceeded those of any other BFRs or PFASs targeted in this study. This likely reflects its recent use as a “drop-in” replacement for the recently restricted Decabromodiphenyl ether product. Overall, our data suggest that the 10 landfills studied do not exert a discernible influence on local air and soil concentrations of BFRs and PFASs. In contrast, while not of immediate concern, our data suggest that further more detailed study of the impact of landfill emissions on concentrations of DBDPE and PFOA is advisable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135834
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date29 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2020


  • Air
  • BFRs
  • Groundwater
  • Landfill
  • PFASs
  • Soil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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