Environmental contamination and human exposure to PFASs near a fluorochemical production plant: Review of historic and current PFOA and GenX contamination in the Netherlands
By Wouter A Gebbink and Stefan P J van Leeuwen
March 3, 2020
Fluorochemical production plants (FPP) are primary emission sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) to the local environment. An FPP located in the Netherlands has historically used perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) for fluoropolymer production and is currently using GenX (HFPO-DA; 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoro-2-(heptafluoropropoxy)propionic acid) as a replacement. This study reviewed existing data from open access reports and peer reviewed publications on the environmental presence of PFOA and GenX in environmental matrices such as surface water, groundwater, soil and vegetation. Published data on human exposure to PFOA and GenX (i.e. via drinking water and food as well as blood monitoring) were reviewed in order to assess the influence of the FPP on contamination of the local population. Concentrations in environmental and human exposure samples were compared to (inter)national quality standards or risk limits. The data showed higher PFOA and GenX concentrations in surface water, groundwater, soil and vegetation samples taken close to point sources, and the highest observed concentrations exceeded these standards and limits (except for PFOA in soil). Drinking water and food also contained higher PFOA and GenX concentrations in samples taken close to point sources compared to samples further away. Tolerable daily intake (TDIs) for both PFASs were exceeded, however, only in a maximum exposure scenario. Blood monitoring of the local population near the FPP, and FPP workers, confirmed high exposure can occur as blood concentrations of several individuals exceeded the safe level. This paper provides a comprehensive overview on PFOA and GenX contamination close to point sources in the Netherlands.