Occurrence and implications of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances in animal feeds used in laboratory toxicity testing

By Youn Jeong Choi, Linda S Lee, Tyler D Hoskins, Mahsa Modiri Gharehveran, and Maria S SepĂșlveda
Sci Total Environ
January 10, 2023
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.161583

The exceptional thermal and chemical stability and the amphiphilicity of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have resulted in widespread use and subsequent contamination in environmental media and biota. Concerns surrounding toxicity have led to numerous animal-based toxicity studies. Due to the ubiquity of PFAS and the low parts per trillion (ppt) health advisory levels for drinking water, several contamination elimination protocols have been implemented. In addition, it is urgently necessary to perform low-dose experiments, but due to unknown pathways for entry of unwanted PFAS, low-dose studies are extremely challenging to conduct. However, animal feed sources are a likely route that could introduce unwanted PFAS into experiments, yet investigations of PFAS in common animal feeds are lacking. Here, we report the examination of PFAS levels in eighteen different animal feeds, representing a range of diets fed to diverse taxa. We evaluated whether PFAS levels in feeds were correlated with ingredient composition (plant versus animal-based) or dietary habits of lab animals (amphibian, fish, invertebrate, mammal). PFOS, PFHxS, PFOA, and short-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids had the highest detection levels and frequencies across all samples. Different food ingredients led to different PFAS profiles. No meaningful levels of PFAS precursors were detected. We demonstrate that PFAS contamination in animal feed is pervasive. Reducing food-sourced PFAS is a critical, albeit challenging task to improve interpretability of in vivo exposures.

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