Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in household waste: Presence in waste and degradation/conversion in incineration processes
within the Industrial Doctoral School.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are used in a large number of consumer products and industrial processes. There is currently a lack of knowledge regarding how these substances are spread by waste management and incineration into the environment and people. This will be studied in a collaborative project between Umeå University and Umeå Energi.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are found in a wide range of consumer products, such as food packaging, detergents, cosmetics and water and dirt repellent textiles. Once these products reach the end of their working life, a significant percentage are sent for incineration. As things stand, however, we do not know what happens to PFASs in the incineration processes. The potential leakage from waste storage facilities into the surrounding environment is also unmapped. What is known from animal studies is that these substances carry a number of health risks, that they bioaccumulate in organisms and that they are extremely persistent.
My research focuses on studying how PFASs spread from waste management facilities into the surrounding environment. It is vital that we find out which waste products sent for incineration contain PFASs. The project will also examine how PFASs degrade or convert into other substances during incineration, which byproducts might be formed and the necessary conditions for the effective degradation of PFASs.