Determination of per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds in paper recycling grades using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography–high-resolution mass spectrometry

Nondumiso Nomonde Mofokeng*, Lawrence Mzukisi Madikizela, Ineke Tiggelman, Edmond Sanganyado, Luke Chimuka

*Corresponding author for this work

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Globally, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)–related research on paper products has focused on food packaging with less consideration on the presence of PFAS at different stages of the paper recycling chain. This study analysed the prevalence of PFAS in paper grades used for the manufacture of recycled paperboard. The presence of PFAS was attributed to the use of PFAS-containing additives, consumer usage, exposure to packed goods as well as contamination during mingling, sorting, collection, and recovery of paper recycling material. Q Orbitrap mass spectrometry was used to analyse the paper samples after accelerated solvent extraction and solid phase extraction. The distribution and possible propagation of 22 PFAS were determined in pre-consumer, retail and post-consumer paper products. Post-consumer samples had the highest combined average concentration (ΣPFAS) at 213 ng/g, while the ΣPFAS in retail (159 ng/g) and pre-consumer samples (121 ng/g) was detected at lower concentrations. This study showed that waste collection and recycling protocols may influence PFAS propagation and that measures must be developed to minimise and possibly eliminate exposure opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Early online date11 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Apr 2024

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