Landfill leachate contributes per-/poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and pharmaceuticals to municipal wastewater†
Widespread disposal of landfill leachate to municipal sewer infrastructure in the United States calls for an improved understanding of the relative organic-chemical contributions to the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) waste stream and associated surface-water discharge to receptors in the environment. Landfill leachate, WWTP influent, and WWTP effluent samples were collected from three landfill-WWTP systems and compared with analogous influent and effluent samples from two WWTPs that did not receive leachate. Samples were analyzed for 73 per-/poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), 109 pharmaceuticals, and 21 hormones and related compounds. PFAS were detected more frequently in leachate (92%) than in influent (55%). Total PFAS concentrations in leachate (93 100 ng L−1) were more than 10 times higher than in influent (6950 ng L−1) and effluent samples (3730 ng L−1). Concentrations of bisphenol A; the nonprescription pharmaceuticals cotinine, lidocaine, nicotine; and the prescription pharmaceuticals amphetamine, carisoprodol, pentoxifylline, and thiabendazole were an order of magnitude higher in landfill leachate than WWTP influent. Leachate load contributions for PFAS (0.78 to 31 g d−1), bisphenol A (0.97 to 8.3 g d−1), and nonprescription (2.0 to 3.1 g d−1) and prescription (0.48 to 2.5 g d−1) pharmaceuticals to WWTP influent were generally low (<10 g d−1) for most compounds resulting from high influent-to-leachate volumetric ratios (0.983). No clear differences in concentrations were apparent between effluents from WWTPs receiving landfill leachate and those that did not receive landfill leachate.