Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Perfluorinated phthalates wastewater partitioning contaminants Long Island Sound

Major Advisor

Penny Vlahos

Associate Advisor

William Fitzgerald

Associate Advisor

Michael Whitney

Associate Advisor

Bruce Brownawell

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Discharges of wastewater were identified, for the first time, as major sources of PFAAs and PAEs to this region. The annual mass flow of target PFAAs to LIS watershed was estimated to be in the range of 50 - 530 kg/year; the mass flow of PAEs was estimated at between 60 – 270 kg/year. Analysis of sediments, suspended particulate matter (SPM) and water along the Housatonic River found that while PFAA partitioning to solid phases increased with perfluoroalkyl chain length, little was lost to sediments. PFAA mass flow was conserved into the estuary displaying a dilution gradient consistent with source waters mixing with estuary waters. Conversely, PAEs were detected in higher concentrations in the estuary surface waters than in the river, indicating the estuary to be a trap for these contaminants. Total PFAA concentrations decreased with increased river flow. Average total PFAA mass flux to the LIS from the Housatonic was estimated at 60 – 90 g/day in low flow hydrology, and 200 - 340 g/day during the high flow regime. A high concentration pollution event indicated the continued industrial use of restricted PFAAs in this region. SPM was found to play an important role in contaminant transport in effluent and receiving waters. Partitioning parameters derived for SPM and sediments in the field were 1-2 orders of magnitude greater than experimentally derived literature values, but consistent with other field observations. The higher order partitioning to SPM than sediments highlights the role of SPM as a vector of contaminants to the food chain.