GenX is not always a better fluorinated organic compound than PFOA: A critical review on aqueous phase treatability by adsorption and its associated cost

Hamed Heidari, Tauqeer Abbas, Yong Sik Ok, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Amit Bhatnagar, Eakalak Khan

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117683
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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