Environmental occurrence and biotransformation of perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acid precursors: Fluorotelomer alcohols
By Hongna Zhang, Wen Bei, and Shuzhen Zhang
February 23, 2021
Perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs) have received great regulatory attention from the government and international organizations due to their environmental persistence, bioaccumulation and potential toxicity. With the effective reduction of their production and emission in recent years, exploring the indirect sources of PFCAs has become increasingly important. Fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) are important raw materials used to produce fluoropolymers and fluorosurfactants, which have been incorporated into a variety of consumer and industrial products. Moreover, FTOHs are also primary biotransformation intermediates of multiple fluorotelomer-based substances. Degradation of FTOHs has been widely considered as an additional source of PFCAs in the environment and biological species. After entering the environment, FTOHs can undergo long-range transport and can be transformed into polyfluorinated intermediates, and finally oxidized to different carbon-chain lengths of PFCAs. Recent studies also showed that polyfluorinated intermediate metabolites of FTOHs exhibited higher biotoxicity than PFCAs. Therefore, to accurately reveal the environmental and health risks of FTOHs, it is essential to understand their environmental levels and biotransformation routes. In this paper, the sources and physicochemical properties of FTOHs were introduced, the analytical methods and environmental occurrence of FTOHs were reviewed, and the biotransformation processes and toxic mechanisms of FTOHs were analyzed.
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