Insufficient evidence for the existence of natural trifluoroacetic acid

By Shira Joudan, Amila O. De Silva, and Cora J. Young
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts
January 3, 2022
DOI: 10.1039/D1EM00306B

Trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) is a persistent and mobile pollutant that is present ubiquitously in the environment. As a result of a few studies reporting its presence in pre-industrial samples and a purported unaccounted source, TFA is often claimed to exist naturally. Here, we examine the evidence for natural TFA by: (i) critically evaluating measurements of TFA in pre-industrial samples; (ii) examining the likelihood of TFA formation by hypothesized mechanisms; (iii) exploring other potential TFA sources to the deep ocean; and (iv) examining global budgets of TFA. We conclude that the presence of TFA in the deep ocean and lack of closed TFA budget is not sufficient evidence that TFA occurs naturally, especially without a reasonable mechanism of formation. We argue the paradigm of natural TFA should no longer be carried forward.


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