Remediation of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contaminated soils – To mobilize or to immobilize or to degrade?

Nanthi Bolan, Binoy Sarkar, Yubo Yan, Qiao Li, Hasintha Wijesekara, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Marina Schauerte, Julian Bosch, Hendrik Noll, Yong Sik Ok, Kirk Scheckel, Jurate Kumpiene, Kapish Gobindlal, Melanie Kah, Jonathan Sperry, M. B. Kirkham, Hailong Wang, Yiu Fai Tsang, Deyi HouJörg Rinklebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Citations (Scopus)


Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are synthetic chemicals, which are introduced to the environment through anthropogenic activities. Aqueous film forming foam used in firefighting, wastewater effluent, landfill leachate, and biosolids are major sources of PFAS input to soil and groundwater. Remediation of PFAS contaminated solid and aqueous media is challenging, which is attributed to the chemical and thermal stability of PFAS and the complexity of PFAS mixtures. In this review, remediation of PFAS contaminated soils through manipulation of their bioavailability and destruction is presented. While the mobilizing amendments (e.g., surfactants) enhance the mobility and bioavailability of PFAS, the immobilizing amendments (e.g., activated carbon) decrease their bioavailability and mobility. Mobilizing amendments can be applied to facilitate the removal of PFAS though soil washing, phytoremediation, and complete destruction through thermal and chemical redox reactions. Immobilizing amendments are likely to reduce the transfer of PFAS to food chain through plant and biota (e.g., earthworm) uptake, and leaching to potable water sources. Future studies should focus on quantifying the potential leaching of the mobilized PFAS in the absence of removal by plant and biota uptake or soil washing, and regular monitoring of the long-term stability of the immobilized PFAS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123892
JournalJournal of hazardous materials
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 5


  • Aqueous firefighting foam
  • Biosolids
  • Mobilization and immobilization
  • PFAS
  • Soil remediation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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