Investigation of levels of perfluoroalkyl substances in freshwater fishes collected in a contaminated area of Veneto Region, Italy

By Federica Gallocchio, Marzia Mancin, Simone Belluco, Alessandra Moressa, Roberto Angeletti, Monica Lorenzetto, Giuseppe Arcangeli, Nicola Ferrè, Antonia Ricci, and Francesca Russo
Environ Sci Pollut Res Int
November 16, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s11356-021-17236-5

The bioaccumulation of 12 perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in 107 freshwater fishes collected during 2017 in waterbodies of a contaminated area in Veneto Region (Italy) was evaluated. The contamination had been previously ascribed to a fluorochemical manufacturing plant that discharged mainly perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), among other PFASs, into the surrounding environment. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was the most abundant compound, detected in almost 99% of the fish with an average concentration of 9.23 µg/kg wet weight (w/w). Other detected compounds were perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnA) (98%, 0.55 µg/kg w/w), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) (98%, 2.87 µg/kg w/w), perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoA) (93%, 1.51 µg/kg w/w), and PFOA (79%, 0.33 µg/kg w/w). Bioaccumulation of PFASs was species related, with Italian barbel being the most contaminated, followed by chub, wels catfish, and carp, reflecting animals' habitat use and feeding behavior. A significant negative linear relation between PFAS concentration and fish weight was observed no matter the considered species, with smaller fish having proportionally higher bioaccumulation. PFOS concentrations were strongly correlated with the concentrations of other PFASs, suggesting a similar source of contamination or a contamination from ubiquitous sources. Correlation analysis showed PFOA likely originated from a separated source, unlinked to other PFASs. Although the fishes studied are not usually consumed by local people, with the likely exception of freshwater anglers (and relatives), their consumption has been banned by Veneto Authority since the time this study was conducted. In fact, the study suggests that a medium/high consumption frequency (superior to 1 portion per month) of fish from the investigated area might result in a high exposure to PFASs.

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