Assessment of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in Biscayne Bay surface waters and tap waters from South Florida

By Xuerong Li, Morgan Fatowe, Danni Cui, and Natalia Quinete
Sci Total Environ
September 17, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150393

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are persistent anthropogenic pollutants present in many environmental media worldwide due to their extensive uses in many industrial and commercial products combined with their high thermal and chemical stabilities. Its ubiquitous presence in surface and drinking water supply and significant adverse health effects observed in wildlife and humans, associated with its bioaccumulation potential, pose big concerns. In this study, we have developed and validated a semi-automated solid phase extraction (SPE) followed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) for the determination of legacy and emerging short-chain PFAS substitutes in surface and tap water at low parts-per-trillion (ppt) levels in South Florida environments. Surface waters from Biscayne Bay and adjacent canals (n = 15) and tap waters from different counties (Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County) (n = 21) were collected between October 2020 (wet season) and February 2021 (dry season). Total PFAS concentrations up to 242 ng L (average of 168 ng L) were found in tap water from Grapeland Heights, which is the closest location to the Miami international airport that was sampled. The highest average total PFAS level of 106 ng L was observed in surface water from the Biscayne Canal C-8 for the wet and dry season. In general, average total PFAS was higher in tap water (86.3 ng L) than in surface waters (46.3 ng L), whereas the most predominant and frequently detected PFAS were PFBA, PFBS, PFPeA, PFHxA, PFHxS, PFOA and PFOS. PFAS levels found could represent a high human health risk, and ecological risk based on PFOS levels above recommended thresholds are also noted. Such knowledge on PFAS occurrence, distribution and sources in South Florida will provide essential information for local and regional regulatory agencies related to water quality, further facilitating the development of guidelines and procedures for PFAS pollution control and reduction in Florida.

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