A profile analysis with suspect screening of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in firefighting foam impacted waters in Okinawa, Japan
By Satoru Yukioka, Shuhei Tanaka, Yuji Suzuki, Shinya Echigo, Anna Kärrman, and Shigeo Fujii
July 28, 2020
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a group of persistent contaminants detected in firefighting foam impacted waters. Previous studies have performed suspect and non-target screening by high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) to determine the composition of PFAS contamination and to discover unknown PFASs. Here, we performed a profile analysis with suspect screening against two lists in the NORMAN Suspect List Exchange in firefighting foam impacted environmental and drinking water (n = 18) collected in Okinawa, Japan, in April 2019. Samples were analyzed by liquid chromatography (LC) quadrupole time-of-flight (QTOF) MS in electron spray ionization mode. Suspect screening returned 116 candidate PFASs with their molecular weights, functional groups, and perfluoroalkyl chain lengths. Long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) and some of their precursors were specifically found around the firefighting training area. Short-chain PFAAs were assumed to be formed from precursors by environmental processes. Perfluoroalkyl sulfonamide precursors were found to be transformed to perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids (PFSAs) in the drinking water treatment process. In contrast, biological activated carbon filtration formed perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs). The PFAS profile showed that a large number of different substances needs to be considered.