Emerging Chlorinated Polyfluorinated Polyether Compounds Impacting the Waters of Southwestern New Jersey Identified by Use of Nontargeted Analysis

By James P. McCord, Mark J. Strynar, John W. Washington, Erica L. Bergman, and Sandra M. Goodrow
October 5, 2020
DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00640

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) make up a widespread, environmentally persistent class of anthropogenic chemicals that are widely used in industrial and consumer products and frequently detected in environmental media. Concerns over potential human health impacts from long-term exposure to legacy PFAS (long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids) resulted in the use of PFAS with alternative structures. Nontargeted environmental monitoring has been crucial in identifying the existence and transport of emerging PFAS in environmental media. Previous work in an industrially impacted region of southwestern New Jersey has shown consistently elevated levels of legacy PFAS, motivating additional examination by nontargeted mass spectrometry to identify emerging PFAS contamination. This study applied nontargeted analysis to water samples collected in Gloucester and Salem counties in southwestern New Jersey, revealing the existence of a series of chloro-perfluoro-polyether carboxylates and related PFAS species, believed to originate from a regional, industrial PFAS user. There is sparse publicly available toxicity information for the emerging chemical species, but estimated concentrations exceeded the state drinking water standards for perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorononanoic acid. Nontargeted analysis was used to estimate the effectiveness of point-of-entry water treatment systems for removal of the emerging species and reduced the abundance of PFAS by >90%.


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