Legacy per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and alternatives (short-chain analogues, F-53B, GenX and FC-98) in residential soils of China: Present implications of replacing legacy PFASs

By Jiafu Li, Jiahui He, Zhiguang Niu, and Ying Zhang
Environ. Int.
December 30, 2019
DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.105419

With the worldwide regulation of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), the alternatives (short chain analogues and emerging per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFASs) have gradually attracted global attention. This study analysed the replacing of legacy PFASs in China using PFASs data from residential soils, which might be good environmental indicators of their present usage. The total concentrations of 21 PFASs ranged from 244 to 13564 pg/g, and PFOA was the dominant compound among the studied PFASs, with a concentration of 354 ± 439 pg/g. Serious PFASs pollution in residential soils mainly occurred in Eastern Coastal China as a result of locally developed industry and economies. Weak but significant correlations were found between PFASs and environmental and socioeconomic factors, suggesting that various factors determine PFASs contamination in residential soils. The concentration and detection frequency (DF) of short-chain analogues (C < 8) (375 ± 509 pg/g and 100%), and F-53B (216 ± 306 pg/g and 98.9%) were higher than those for PFOS (193 ± 502 pg/g and 85.4%), indicating that these compounds have been widely used as PFOS alternatives and their consumption has already exceeded that of PFOS in China. In addition, GenX (the PFOA alternative) had a concentration and DF of 19.1 ± 104 pg/g and 40.5%, respectively. These values were much lower than those for PFOA (354 ± 439 pg/g and 96.6%), indicating GenX consumption is still limited at the national scale of China, despite its use as a PFOA replacement. Moreover, the low concentration and DF of FC-98 (2.31 ± 11.1 pg/g and 27.0%) indicate that its consumption might be negligible. Our study demonstrated that short chain analogues and emerging alternatives have become the dominant PFAS pollutants in Chinese residential soils, and further studies need to be conducted to understand their toxicity and environmental risks.

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