Bioconcentration of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and precursors in fathead minnow tissues environmentally exposed to aqueous film-forming foam-contaminated waters

By Nicholas I Hill, Jitka Becanova, Simon Vojta, Larry B Barber, Denis R LeBlanc, Alan M Vajda, Heidi M Pickard, and Rainer Lohmann
Environ Toxicol Chem
June 19, 2024
DOI: 10.1002/etc.5926

Exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been associated with toxicity in wildlife and negative health effects in humans. Decades of fire training activity at Joint Base Cape Cod (MA, USA) incorporated the use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), which resulted in long-term PFAS contamination of sediments, groundwater, and hydrologically connected surface waters. To explore the bioconcentration potential of PFAS in complex environmental mixtures, a mobile laboratory was established to evaluate the bioconcentration of PFAS from AFFF-impacted groundwater by flow-through design. Fathead minnows (n = 24) were exposed to PFAS in groundwater over a 21-day period and tissue-specific PFAS burdens in liver, kidney, and gonad were derived at three different time points. The ∑PFAS concentrations in groundwater increased from approximately 10,000 ng/L at day 1 to 36,000 ng/L at day 21. The relative abundance of PFAS in liver, kidney, and gonad shifted temporally from majority perfluoroalkyl sulfonamides (FASAs) to perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFSAs). By day 21, mean ∑PFAS concentrations in tissues displayed a predominance in the order of liver > kidney > gonad. Generally, bioconcentration factors (BCFs) for FASAs, perfluoroalkyl carboxylates (PFCAs), and fluorotelomer sulfonates (FTS) increased with degree of fluorinated carbon chain length, but this was not evident for PFSAs. Perfluorooctane sulfonamide (FOSA) displayed the highest mean BCF (8700 L/kg) in day 21 kidney. Suspect screening results revealed the presence of several perfluoroalkyl sulfinate and FASA compounds present in groundwater and in liver for which pseudo-bioconcentration factors are also reported. The bioconcentration observed for precursor compounds and PFSA derivatives detected suggests alternative pathways for terminal PFAS exposure in aquatic wildlife and humans. Environ Toxicol Chem 2024;00:1-12. © 2024 The Author(s). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of SETAC.

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