Multiple crop bioaccumulation and human exposure of perfluoroalkyl substances around a mega fluorochemical industrial park, China: Implication for planting optimization and food safety

By Zhaoyang Liu, Yonglong Lu, Xin Song, Kevin Jones, Andrew J. Sweetman, Andrew C. Johnson, Meng Zhang, Xiaotian Lu, and Chao Su
Environ Int
April 13, 2019
DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.04.008

Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have become a recognized concern due to their mobility, persistence, ubiquity and health hazards in the environment. In this study, ten types of vegetables and three types of grain crops were collected in two open-air fields with different distances (0.3 km, 10 km) from a mega fluorochemical industrial park (FIP), China. Bioaccumulation characteristics of PFASs in light of crop types and organs were explored, followed by analyzing human exposure and risks to local residents with different age groups and dietary habits. Elevated levels of ∑PFASs were found nearby the FIP ranging from 79.9 ng/g to 200 ng/g in soils and from 58.8 ng/g to 8085 ng/g in crops. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was the predominant PFAS component in soil; while shorter-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs), especially perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA), were the major PFAS contaminants in multiple crops, resulting from their bioaccumulation preference. Depending on the crop types, the bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) of ∑PFASs for edible parts varied from 0.36 to 48.0, and the highest values were found in shoot vegetables compared with those in fruit vegetables, flower vegetables, root vegetables and grain crops. For typical grains, the BAFs of ∑PFASs decreased in the order of soybean (Glycine max (Linn.) Merr.), wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and corn (Zea mays L.), possibly related to their protein and lipid content. Among specific organs in the whole plants, leaves exhibited the highest BAFs of ∑PFASs compared with corresponding roots, stems, husks or grains. With increasing carbon chain lengths of individual PFCAs (C4-C8), the logarithm of their BAFs for edible parts of various crops showed a linear decrease (0.1-1.16 log decrease per CF unit), and the largest decrease was observed in grains. Human exposure to PFOA via the consumption of contaminated crops represents a health risk for local residents, especially for low-age consumers or urban consumers with higher vegetable diet. Implications for planting optimization and food safety were provided aiming to reduce health hazards of PFASs.

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