Widespread contamination of the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) in agricultural areas is largely attributed to the application of sewage sludge in which the PFAS can be concentrated. This creates a pathway for these contaminants to enter the food chain and, by extension, causes human health and economic concerns. One barrier to managing land with PFAS contamination is the variation in reported plant uptake levels across studies. A review of the literature suggests that the variation in plant uptake is influenced by a host of factors including the composition of PFAS chemicals, soil conditions, and plant physiology. Factors include (1) the chemical components of the PFAS such as the end group and chain length; (2) drivers of soil sorption such as the presence of soil organic matter (SOM), multivalent cation concentration, pH, soil type, and micropore volume; and (3) crop physiological features such as fine root area, percentage of mature roots, and leaf blade area. The wide range of driving factors highlights a need for research to elucidate these mechanisms through additional experiments as well as collect more data to support refined models capable of predicting PFAS uptake in a range of cropping systems. A conceptual framework presented here links drivers of plant PFAS uptake found in the literature to phytomanagement approaches such as modified agriculture or phytoremediation to provide decision support to land managers.
Linking drivers of plant per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) uptake to agricultural land management decisions
Alex E. Scearce, Caleb P. Goossen, Rachel E. Schattman, Ellen B. Mallory, Jean D. MaCrae; Linking drivers of plant per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) uptake to agricultural land management decisions. Biointerphases 1 July 2023; 18 (4): 040801. https://doi.org/10.1116/6.0002772
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