External and internal human exposure to PFOA and HFPOs around a mega fluorochemical industrial park, China: Differences and implications
By Xuemin Feng, Xin Chen, Yi Yang, Liping Yang, Yumin Zhu, Guoqiang Shan, Lingyan Zhu, and Shufeng Zhang
August 25, 2021
Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer and trimer acids (HFPO-DA and HFPO-TA) are used as alternatives to legacy perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA); however, little is known about their human exposure risks. In this study, the concentrations of PFOA and HFPO were measured in major human exposure matrices and human bio-samples of local residents near a mega fluorochemical industrial park in Shandong, China, to characterize their external and internal exposures. Although HFPO-DA was detected in drinking water and indoor dust, it exhibited a considerably low bioaccumulation potential in animal-origin food and human samples (urine, hair, and serum), implying that it might be a benign alternative to PFOA. Although the estimated daily intake (EDI) of HFPO-TA was comparable to that of PFOA, its concentration in urine was higher than that of PFOA, implying that it might be eliminated faster than PFOA. A simple one-compartment pharmacokinetic model was applied to estimate the serum concentrations of the target compounds and subsequently compare them with the measured concentrations. The predicted concentration of PFOA in serum based on its concentration in urine and half-life was close to the measured value, confirming the distinct internal exposure of PFOA in the local residents. However, the measured concentrations of HFPO in serum were considerably lower than those predicted from the external EDI and urine concentrations, implying that they were eliminated faster than expected in humans. Various perfluoroalkyl substances were detected in human hair, and their compositions were similar to those in human serum, suggesting that hair is a good non-invasive indicator for long-term exposure to legacy long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids and HFPOs. This study provided valuable information about the human exposure to legacy PFOA and HFPOs in highly impacted areas near point sources and necessitates studies on the toxicokinetics of HFPOs.