Investigation of Levels of Perfluoroalkyl Substances in Surface Water, Sediment and Fish Tissue in New Jersey, USA

By Sandra M Goodrow, Bruce Ruppel, Robert L Lippincott, Gloria B Post, and Nicholas A Procopio
Sci of Total Env
May 19, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138839

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substances found in New Jersey (NJ) due to historic and current industrial activities and the use of aqueous film forming foams. This research documents PFAS occurrence in surface water, sediments, and fish tissue at 11 targeted waterbodies in NJ suspected to be impacted by PFAS. Thirteen PFAS compounds were quantified from each media. The profile of detected PFAS differed among media from the same site, with shorter chain PFAS tending to predominate in surface water while longer chain PFAS predominated in fish and sediments. All water samples contained detectable levels of at least four perfluoroalkyl substances. PFOA, PFHpA and PFPeA were detected at every site. ΣPFAS concentrations in water samples ranged from 22.9 to 279.5 ng/L. At least one, and up to eight, PFAS were detected in sediment samples at 10 sites, while there were no detections of PFAS in sediments at the reference site. ΣPFAS concentrations in sediment samples ranged from below detection to 30.9 ng/g. At least one fish of each species at every site had detectable levels of PFAS compounds. ΣPFAS concentrations in fish were highest at sites downstream from a military facility, and lowest at the reference site. PFOS, PFDA, PFUnA and PFDoA were the predominant PFAS detected in fish tissue. PFOS was generally found in fish tissue at higher concentrations than other PFAS, with higher PFOS concentrations found in the tissue of yellow perch, American eel, pumpkinseed, and largemouth bass collected at sites with higher detections of PFOS in surface waters. PFOS levels in nearly all fish species were, on average, high enough to trigger fish consumption advisories. Additional studies are needed to further evaluate the sources and occurrence of PFAS in NJ and to better understand their movement through the environment and potential risks.

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