Novel Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Discovered in Cattle Exposed to AFFF-Impacted Groundwater

By Pradeep Dewapriya, Sandra Nilsson, Sara Ghorbani Gorji, Jake W O'Brien, Jennifer Bräunig, María José Gómez Ramos, Eric Donaldson, Saer Samanipour, Jonathan W Martin, Jochen F Mueller, Sarit L Kaserzon, and Kevin V Thomas
Environ Sci Technol
August 30, 2023
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.3c03852

The leaching of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) from Australian firefighting training grounds has resulted in extensive contamination of groundwater and nearby farmlands. Humans, farm animals, and wildlife in these areas may have been exposed to complex mixtures of PFASs from aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs). This study aimed to identify PFAS classes in pooled whole blood ( = 4) and serum ( = 4) from cattle exposed to AFFF-impacted groundwater and potentially discover new PFASs in blood. Thirty PFASs were identified at various levels of confidence (levels 1a-5a), including three novel compounds: (i) perfluorohexanesulfonamido 2-hydroxypropanoic acid (FHxSA-HOPrA), (ii) methyl((perfluorohexyl)sulfonyl)sulfuramidous acid, and (iii) methyl((perfluorooctyl)sulfonyl)sulfuramidous acid, belonging to two different classes. Biotransformation intermediate, perfluorohexanesulfonamido propanoic acid (FHxSA-PrA), hitherto unreported in biological samples, was detected in both whole blood and serum. Furthermore, perfluoroalkyl sulfonamides, including perfluoropropane sulfonamide (FPrSA), perfluorobutane sulfonamide (FBSA), and perfluorohexane sulfonamide (FHxSA) were predominantly detected in whole blood, suggesting that these accumulate in the cell fraction of blood. The suspect screening revealed several fluoroalkyl chain-substituted PFAS. The results suggest that targeting only the major PFASs in the plasma or serum of AFFF-exposed mammals likely underestimates the toxicological risks associated with exposure. Future studies of AFFF-exposed populations should include whole-blood analysis with high-resolution mass spectrometry to understand the true extent of PFAS exposure.

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