This study examines occurrences of 11 perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in several wastewater treatment plants in Japan and Thailand. Surveys are conducted in eight wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Japan and central WWTPs of five industrial estates (IEs) in Thailand. Samples are collected from all major treatment processes in order to understand the behavior of PFCs in WWTPs. PFCs are detected in all WWTPs in Japan and Thailand. Concentrations of PFCs even exceed several thousands ng/L in some WWTPs. PFOS, PFOA, and PFNA are mainly detected in WWTPs in Japan, while PFBuS, PFOA, and PFHxA are mainly detected in WWTP of IEs in Thailand. Even though some of the investigated WWTPs utilize biological treatment processes coupled with chlorination, ozonation, or activated carbon adsorption, they are found ineffective to remove PFCs. During the treatment process, PFCs are found to accumulate at exceptionally high concentration levels in the activated sludge of an aeration tank and returned activated sludge. Overall, the estimated total daily mass of discharged PFCs is 124.95 g/d (PFASs: 49.81 g/d; PFCAs: 75.14 g/d) from eight WWTPs in Japan and 55.04 g/d (PFASs: 12 g/d; PFCAs: 43.04 g/d) from five WWTPs in Thailand. Although the presented data are from a single observation in each WWTP, the results indicate that certain industries using PFCs in manufacturing processes could be the principle point source, while domestic activities could be releasing PFCs at detectable levels causing environmental concern.
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