Emerging technologies for PFOS/PFOA degradation and removal: A review

Shui Cheung Edgar Leung, Pradeep Shukla, Dechao Chen, Ehsan Eftekhari, Hongjie An, Firuz Zare, Negareh Ghasemi, Dongke Zhang, Nam Trung Nguyen, Qin Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are highly recalcitrant anthropogenic chemicals that are ubiquitously present in the environment and are harmful to humans. Typical water and wastewater treatment processes (coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration) are proven to be largely ineffective, while adsorption with granular activated carbon (GAC) has been the chief option to capture them from aqueous sources followed by incineration. However, this process is time-consuming, and produces additional solid waste and air pollution. Treatment methods for PFOS and PFOA generally follow two routes: (1) removal from source and reduce the risk; (2) degradation. Emerging technologies focusing on degradation are critically reviewed in this contribution. Various processes such as bioremediation, electrocoagulation, foam fractionation, sonolysis, photocatalysis, mechanochemical, electrochemical degradation, beams of electron and plasma have been developed and studied in the past decade to address PFAS crisis. The underlying mechanisms of these PFAS degradation methods have been categorized. Two main challenges have been identified, namely complexity in large scale operation and the release of toxic byproducts. Based on the literature survey, we have provided a strength-weakness-opportunity-threat (SWOT) analysis and quantitative rating on their efficiency, environmental impact and technology readiness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153669
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2022


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