Perfluorooctanoic acid triggers oxidative stress in anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge

Yimeng JIAO, Mei ZOU, Xiao YANG, Yiu Fai TSANG, Hongbo CHEN

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), as a recalcitrant organic pollutant, inevitably enters wastewater treatment facilities and is enriched in settled sludge. However, the potential impact of PFOA on sludge treatment has never been documented. In this study, the effect of PFOA on anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge and its underlying mechanism were investigated through batch and long-term experiments. The presence of PFOA was found to be deleterious for methane production from sewage sludge. 170 mg/kg total solids PFOA reduced the cumulative methane production from 197.1 ± 1.92 to 159.9 ± 3.10 mL/g volatile solids. PFOA induces the production of reactive oxygen species, which directly leads to cell inactivation and interferes with methane production. PFOA stimulates microorganisms to secrete more extracellular polymeric substances (mainly proteins), which not only hinders the solubilization of organic matter but also down-regulate enzyme activities to inhibit acidification and methanogenesis. In addition, PFOA reduces the diversity of microorganisms, especially the abundance of acid-producing bacteria and methanogens, making the microbial community unfavorable for methane production. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127418
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Issue numberPart B
Early online dateOct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


Jiao, Y., Zou, M., Yang, X., Tsang, Y. F., & Chen, H. (2022). Perfluorooctanoic acid triggers oxidative stress in anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 424(Part B). Retrieved from


  • Perfluorooctanoic acid
  • Oxidative stress
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Sewage sludge
  • Methane production


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