Nationwide distribution of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in road dust from India

By Eriko Yamazaki, Dipa Lalwani, Yuefei Ruan, Sachi Taniyasu, Nobuyasu Hanari, Nirmal J I Kumar, Paul K S Lam, and Nobuyoshi Yamashita
Sci Total Environ
June 2, 2023
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.164538

In India, information on the occurrence and distribution of legacy and emerging per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is deficient. In the present study, nationwide 79 road dust samples were collected from 12 states and 1 union territory for the analysis of 34 PFAS. Overall, total concentrations of 21 quantified PFAS (∑PFAS) ranged 23-861 pg/g (median: 116 pg/g), with perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) being predominant (median: 19.9 pg/g). Short to long chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs; C - C) were detected, where the concentrations of PFAS decreased with the increase in PFAS carbon chain length. ∑PFAS was highest in road dust from urban area (n = 27; median: 230 pg/g), followed by suburban (n = 21; median: 126 pg/g) and rural areas (n = 31; median: 76 pg/g), suggesting environmental impacts of industriallization and urbanization on PFAS distribution. PFAS composition in rural road dust was significantly different from those in suburban and urban samples (p < 0.01). Regarding 4 geographical regions of India, PFAS in road dust showed spatial difference where higher concentrations were found in South India compared to other regions. ∑PFAS were positively associated with city-wise population of India (r = 0.40, p < 0.01). Strong to moderate positive correlation was observed between ∑PFAS, fluorotelomer sulfonic acids, and PFCAs (r = 0.23, 0.30, and 0.28, respectively; p < 0.05) and the total state-wise vehicles in India, suggesting that vehicles exhaust or non-exhaust (e.g., vehicle tire debris and polishing material) might contribute to the PFAS occurrence in Indian road dust. Toddlers (2-5 years) had the highest estimated daily intake of ∑PFAS via road dust ingestion under average-case and worst-case scenarios (0.55 and 1.16 pg/kg bw/day, respectively). This is the first time to evaluate PFAS in Indian road dust nationwide, aiding to provide first-hand data for human exposure to PFAS in India.

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