Combined spatial and retrospective analysis of fluoroalkyl chemicals in fluvial sediments reveal changes in levels and patterns over the last 40 years

By B. Mourier, P. Labadie, M. Desmet, C. Grosbois, J. Raux, M. Debret, Y. Copard, P. Pardon, H. Budzinski, and M. Babut
Env. Poll.
August 28, 2019
DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.07.079


Bed sediments and a dated sediment core were collected upstream and downstream from the city of Lyon (France) to assess the spatial and temporal trends of contamination by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in this section of the Rhône River. Upstream from Lyon, concentrations of total PFASs (ΣPFASs) in sediments are low (between 0.19 and 2.6 ng g-1 dry weight - dw), being characterized by a high proportion of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). Downstream from Lyon, and also from a fluoropolymer manufacturing plant, ΣPFASs concentrations reach 48.7 ng g-1 dw. A gradual decrease of concentrations is reported at the coring site further downstream (38 km). Based on a dated sediment core, the temporal evolution of PFASs is reconstructed from 1984 to 2013. Prior to 1987, ΣPFASs concentrations were low (≤2 ng g-1 dw), increasing to a maximum of 51 ng g-1 dw in the 1990s and then decreasing from 2002 to the present day (∼10 ng g-1 dw). In terms of the PFAS pattern, the proportion of perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids (PFSAs) has remained stable since the 1980s (∼10%), whereas large variations are reported for carboxylic acids (PFCAs). Long chain- (C > 8) PFCAs characterized by an even number of perfluorinated carbons represent about 74% of the total PFAS load until 2005. However, from 2005 to 2013, the relative contribution of long chain- (C > 8) PFCAs with an odd number of perfluorinated carbons reaches 80%. Such changes in the PFAS pattern likely highlight a major shift in the industrial production process. This spatial and retrospective study provides valuable insights into the long-term contamination patterns of PFAS chemicals in river basins impacted by both urban and industrial activities.



Bed sediment; Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances; Rhône river; Sediment core; Spatial trend; Temporal trend

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