GenX is Not Always a Better Fluorinated Organic Compound Than PFOA: A Critical Review on Aqueous Phase Treatability by Adsorption and Its Associated Cost

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Water Research



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Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (GenX) has been marketed as a substitute for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) to reduce environmental and health risks. GenX and PFOA have been detected in various natural water sources, and adsorption is recognized as a typical treatment process for PFOA removal. In this paper, comparisons of GenX and PFOA adsorption are evaluated, including adsorption potential, adsorption mechanisms, and associated costs. A detailed literature review suggests that anion-exchange resins are more effective in removing GenX than activated carbon. GenX removal efficiency through activated carbon (30%) is lower than that of PFOA (80–95%), while GenX and PFOA removal efficiencies by anion exchange resins are similar (99%). Unconventional adsorbents, such as ionic fluorogels and covalent organic frameworks can effectively remove GenX from water. The review reveals that GenX adsorption is more challenging, requiring almost 4 times the treatment cost of its predecessor, PFOA. Annual operation and maintenance costs for GenX adsorption (initial concentration of GenX and PFOA = 0.2 µg.L−1) by GAC for treating 10,000 m3 per day is almost US$1,000,000 per year, but only around US$240,000 per year for PFOA. Desorption of GenX in the presence of PFOA highlights GenX's inferior treatability by adsorption. It is believed that GenX is a more environmentally friendly compound than PFOA, but this environmental friendliness comes with the price.


Activated carbon; Drinking water; Emerging contaminants; Remediation technologies; Water treatment


Civil and Environmental Engineering



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