Animal size impacts perfluoroalkyl acid (PFAA) concentrations in muscle tissue of estuarine fish and invertebrate species
By Matthew D. Taylor
September 15, 2020
Environmental emissions of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) often contaminate aquatic ecosystems and accumulate in the species therein. This can represent an exposure pathway for human populations where seafood is consumed. Concentrations of PFAAs in water breathing animals may be a function of many different factors, however, little is known about how these different factors impact contaminant accumulation in estuarine and marine species. This study explores the relationships between PFAA accumulation and two key variables, animal size and sediment concentrations, for a number of important seafood species. Sixty Dusky Flathead (Platycephalus fuscus), 58 Mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus) and 53 Giant Mud Crab (Scylla serrata) were tested for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) in edible tissues, and the concentrations compared with animal size and sediment concentrations at the location of capture. PFAAs showed a high degree of variation among species, and PFOA and PFHxS were only common in Giant Mud Crab. Log-transformed PFOS concentrations in all three species showed negative correlations with animal size (weight). There was limited evidence for relationships between PFOS muscle tissue concentration and sediment PFOS concentration. The patterns observed are potentially explained by changes in trophic position, relative growth rate, consumption rate and metabolic rate, throughout the species life history. The results contrast with observations for other persistent organic pollutants, whereby larger individuals tend to carry greater contaminant loads. Future work is required to establish whether these patterns are evident for PFAAs in other species and contaminant sources.
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