Acute and chronic effects of perfluoroalkyl substance mixtures on larval American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana)

By R. Wesley Flynn, Michael F. Chislock, Megan E. Gannon, Stephanie J. Bauer, Brian J. Tornabene, Jason T. Hoverman, and Maria S. Sepúlveda
July 22, 2019
DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.124350

Discovery of elevated concentrations of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in ground and surface waters globally has heightened concern over their potential adverse health effects. The effects of PFAS are known largely from acute toxicity studies of single PFAS compounds in model organisms, while little is understood concerning effects of mixtures on wildlife. To address this gap, we examined the acute and chronic effects of two of the most common PFAS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid [PFOS] and perfluorooctanoic acid [PFOA]) and their mixtures on survival, growth, and development of American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) tadpoles. In 96 h acute toxicity tests, PFOS was 10X more toxic than PFOA and effects of the two chemicals in combination appeared additive. The effects of PFOS, PFOA, and their interaction varied by the sublethal endpoint under consideration in a 72 d exposure. Effects of PFAS on tadpole mass and developmental stage were largely driven by PFOS and there was no evidence of interactions suggesting deviations from additivity. However, for snout-vent length, reductions in length in mixture treatments were greater than expected based on the effects of the two chemicals independently (i.e. non-additivity). Further, effects on snout-vent length in single chemical exposures were only observed with PFOA. Our results highlight the importance of assessing combined effects of PFAS co-occurring in the environment and suggest caution in extrapolating the effects of acute toxicity studies to more environmentally relevant exposures. Future studies examining effects of environmentally relevant mixtures on wildlife will be essential for effective environmental risk assessment and management.

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