Bioaccumulation of Zwitterionic Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Earthworms Exposed to Aqueous Film-Forming Foam Impacted Soils

By Gabriel Munoz, Mélanie Desrosiers, Laura Vetter, Sung Vo Duy, Julie Jarjour, Jinxia Liu, Sébastien Sauvé
Environ Sci Technol.
February 3, 2020
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b05102

Critical knowledge gaps remain regarding the fate and effects of zwitterionic, cationic, and anionic perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), including assessment of their bioaccumulation potential. Here, biota soil accumulation factors (BSAFs) were assessed in earthworms (Eisenia fetida) exposed to soil microcosms amended with zwitterionic fluorotelomers and anionic perfluoroalkyl acids. The 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamidoalkyl betaine (6:2 FTAB) bioaccumulated in earthworms [BSAF ∼ 2.5–5.4 (gdw,worm/gdw,soil)−1] but to a lesser extent than perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS: BSAF ∼ 21–29). The BSAF of perfluorocarboxylates increased from ∼2.0 for C4–C6 analogues to ∼92 for perfluorotridecanoate (C13). In earthworms exposed to Ansulite and Arctic Foam aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs), the BSAF was related to perfluorinated chain length for n:3 fluorotelomer betaines (FtBs), n:1:2 FtB, and n:2 FTAB. Earthworms were also collected in situ from a fire-equipment testing site at a major Canadian airport. Summed PFAS concentrations were between 65 000 and 830 000 ng g–1 wet weight, possibly the highest burden recorded in terrestrial biota. Fluorotelomer sulfonates (6:2 FTS, 8:2 FTS, and 10:2 FTS) and FtB were particularly prevalent. Field worms also displayed elevated concentrations of n:3 acids (n = 3–11), but not those from laboratory microcosms exposed to fluorotelomer-based AFFFs. The findings provide an important confirmation to recent data suggesting that fluorotelomer compounds may accumulate in invertebrate species with limited metabolization.

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