First Evidence of Prenatal Exposure to Emerging Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances Associated with E-Waste Dismantling: Chemical Structure-Based Placental Transfer and Health Risks

By Bo Zhang, Ziyang Wei, Cheng Gu, Yiming Yao, Jingchuan Xue, Hongkai Zhu, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Hongwen Sun, and Tao Zhang
Environ Sci Technol
November 18, 2022
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.2c05925

Limited information is available about prenatal exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in electronic waste (e-waste) recycling sites. In this study, we determined 21 emerging PFAS and 13 legacy PFAS in 94 paired maternal and cord serum samples collected from an e-waste dismantling site in Southern China. We found 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonate (6:2 FTSA), 6:2 chlorinated polyfluorinated ether sulfonate (6:2 Cl-PFESA), and perfluorooctanephosphonate (PFOPA) as the major emerging PFAS, regardless of matrices, at median concentrations of 2.40, 1.78, and 0.69 ng/mL, respectively, in maternal serum samples, and 2.30, 0.73, and 0.72 ng/mL, respectively, in cord serum samples. Our results provide evidence that e-waste dismantling activities contribute to human exposure to 6:2 FTSA, 6:2 Cl-PFESA, and PFOPA. The trans-placental transfer efficiencies of emerging PFAS (0.42-0.94) were higher than that of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (0.37) and were structure-dependent. The substitution of fluorine with chlorine or hydrogen and/or hydrophilic functional groups may alter trans-placental transfer efficiencies. Multiple linear regression analysis indicated significant associations between maternal serum concentrations of emerging PFAS and maternal clinical parameters, especially liver function and erythrocyte-related biomarkers. This study provides new insights into prenatal exposure to multiple PFAS in e-waste dismantling areas and the prevalence of emerging PFAS in people living near the sites.

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