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Removal, distribution and plant uptake of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in a simulated constructed wetland system

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PFOS was removed by soil adsorption and plant uptake in the VFCW. • Uptake of PFOS by E. crassipes was more than that of C. alternifolius. • PFOS in wastewater can inhibit the removal of nutrients. • Dosing with PFOS changed the soil microbial community in the VFCW. A vertical-flow constructed wetland (VFCW) was used to treat simulated domestic sewage containing perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). The removal rate of PFOS in the domestic sewage was 93%–98%, through soil adsorption and plant uptake, suggesting that VFCWs can remove PFOS efficiently from wastewater. The removal of PFOS in the VFCW was dependent on soil adsorption and plant uptake; moreover, the percentage of soil adsorption was 61%–89%, and was higher than that of the plants uptake (5%–31%). The absorption capacity of Eichhornia crassipes (E. crassipes) (1186.71 mg/kg) was higher than that of Cyperus alternifolius (C. alternifolius) (162.77 mg/kg) under 10 mg/L PFOS, and the transfer factor of PFOS in E. crassipes and C. alternifolius was 0.04 and 0.58, respectively, indicating that PFOS is not easily translocated to leaves from roots of wetland plants; moreover, uptake of PFOS by E. crassipes was more than that of C. alternifolius because the biomass of E. crassipes was more than that of C. alternifolius and the roots of E. crassipes can take up PFOS directly from wastewater while C. alternifolius needs to do so via its roots in the soil. The concentration of 10 mg/L PFOS had an obvious inhibitory effect on the removal rate of total nitrogen, total phosphorus, chemical oxygen demand, and ammonia nitrogen in the VFCW, which decreased by 15%, 10%, 10% and 12%, respectively. Dosing with PFOS in the wastewater reduced the bacterial richness but increased the diversity in soil because PFOS stimulated the growth of PFOS-tolerant strains.