Comparison of extraction methods for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in human serum and placenta samples-insights into extractable organic fluorine (EOF)

By Andreas-Marius Kaiser, Rudolf Aro, Anna Kärrman, Stefan Weiss, Christina Hartmann, Maria Uhl, Martin Forsthuber, Claudia Gundacker, and Leo W Y Yeung
Anal Bioanal Chem
November 22, 2020
DOI: 10.1007/s00216-020-03041-5

Since the detection of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in humans and different environmental media in the last two decades, this substance group has attracted a lot of attention as well as increasing concerns. The fluorine mass balance approach, by comparing the levels of targeted PFAS after conversion to fluorine equivalents with those of extractable organic fluorine (EOF), showed the presence of unidentified organofluorine in different environmental samples. Out of the thousands of PFAS in existence, only a very small fraction is included in routine analysis. In recent years, liquid chromatography coupled with tandem-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) has demonstrated the ability to analytically cover a wide spectrum of PFAS. In contrast, conventional extraction methods developed 10 to 15 years ago were only evaluated for a limited number of PFAS. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of three different extraction methods, adapted from the literatures without further optimization (ion-pair liquid-liquid extraction, solid-phase extraction (SPE), using hydrophilic-lipophilic (HLB) or weak anion exchange (WAX) sorbents), for human biomonitoring of 61 PFAS in serum and placental tissue samples. In addition, levels of EOF were compared among these extraction methods via spiked samples. Results showed that performance, in terms of recovery, differed between the extraction methods for different PFAS; different extraction methods resulted in different EOF concentrations indicating that the choice of extraction method is important for target PFAS and EOF analysis. Results of maternal serum samples, analyzed in two different laboratories using two different extraction methods, showed an accordance of 107.6% (± 21.3); the detected perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in maternal and cord serum samples were in the range of 0.076 to 2.9 ng/mL.Graphical abstract.

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