Lethal and sublethal toxicity of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in chronic tests with Hyalella azteca (amphipod) and early-life stage tests with Pimephales promelas (fathead minnow).
By Adrienne J Bartlett, Amila O De Silva, Daniel M Schissler, Amanda M Hedges, Lisa R Brown, Kallie Shires, Jason Miller, Cheryl Sullivan, Christine Spencer, and Joanne L Parrott
Ecotoxicol. Environ. Saf.
September 15, 2020
Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are industrial chemicals that are of concern due to their environmental presence, persistence, bioaccumulative potential, toxicity, and capacity for long-range transport. Despite a large body of research on environmental exposure, insufficient chronic aquatic toxicity data exist to develop water quality targets for clean-up of federal contaminated sites in Canada. Thus, our objective was to assess the aqueous toxicity of PFOA in chronic tests with Hyalella azteca (amphipod) and early-life stage tests with Pimephales promelas (fathead minnow). Toxicity data were analyzed based on measured PFOA concentrations. Amphipod exposures were 42 d (0.84-97 mg/L) and examined survival, growth, and reproduction. Fathead minnow exposures were 21 d (0.010-76 mg/L), which encompassed hatching (5 d) and larval stages until 16 d post-hatch; endpoints included hatching success, deformities at hatch, and larval survival and growth. Amphipod survival was significantly reduced at 97 mg/L (42-d LC50 = 51 mg/L), but growth and reproduction were more sensitive endpoints (42-d EC50 for both endpoints = 2.3 mg/L). Fathead minnows were less sensitive than amphipods, exhibiting no significant effects in all endpoints with the exception of uninflated swim bladder, which was significantly higher at 76 mg/L (15%) than controls (0%). Maximum concentrations of PFOA are generally in the ng/L range in global surface waters, but can reach the μg/L range in close proximity to major source inputs; therefore, environmental concentrations are well below those that caused toxicity in the current study. Our data will provide valuable information with which to assess the risk of PFOA at contaminated sites, and to set a target for site remediation.