Nationwide distribution of perfluoroalkyl ether carboxylic acids in Chinese diets: An emerging concern

By Fengfeng Dong, Haijun Zhang, Nan Sheng, Jianglin Hu, Jiayin Dai, and Yitao Pan
Environment International
April 22, 2024
DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2024.108648

With the phase-out of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its replacement by perfluoroalkyl ether carboxylic acids (PFECAs), there is a potential for increased exposure to various new PFECAs among the general population in China. While there are existing studies on dietary exposure to legacy perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), research on dietary exposure to PFECAs, especially among the general Chinese populace, remains scarce. In the present study, we investigated the distribution of PFECAs in dietary sources from 33 cities across five major regions in China, along with the associated dietary intake. Analysis indicated that aquatic animal samples contained higher concentrations of legacy PFASs compared to those from terrestrial animals and plants. In contrast, PFECAs were found in higher concentrations in plant and terrestrial animal samples. Notably, hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer (HFPO-DA) was identified as the dominant compound in vegetables, cereals, pork, and mutton across the five regions, suggesting widespread dietary exposure. PFECAs constituted the majority of PFAS intake (57 %), with the estimated daily intake (EDI) of HFPO-DA ranging from 2.33 to 3.96 ng/kg bw/day, which corresponds to 0.78–1.32 times the reference dose (RfD) (3.0 ng/kg bw/day) set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Given the ubiquity of HFPO-DA and many other PFECAs in the nationwide diet of China, there is an urgent need for further research into these chemicals to establish relevant safety benchmarks or consumption advisory values for the diet.


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