Occurrence of selected per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) in food available on the European market - A review on levels and human exposure assessment

By Elina Pasecnaja, Vadims Bartkevics, and Dzintars Zacs
October 5, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.132378

Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) are considered emerging persistent organic pollutants, which are chemically, thermally, and biologically stable, or degrade to persistent end products. Dietary intake is considered as one of the main human exposure pathways of these chemicals and, having entered the human body, PFASs are not metabolised and accumulate in tissues, while their toxicological properties may cause various health problems. Several studies on the occurrence of PFASs in various food types have been conducted, including the assessment of dietary exposure. The most important sources were fish, meat, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables recently showed relatively high levels of PFASs, and have become a more significant source of PFASs than meat. In 2020, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an opinion, setting the tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of 4.4 ng kg-1 b.w. for the sum of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexanesulphonic acid (PFHxS), and perfluorooctanesulphonic acid (PFOS). The emphasis in this paper is on the systematization of available information on the distribution of PFASs and their levels in different food, with a special interest in data from the Europe. The current legislation and estimated dietary intakes by the general population are described. While the available information on tolerably daily intakes estimated in a number of European countries often exceeds the newly established EFSA TWI, a critical evaluation of performance characteristics of the reviewed analytical methodologies revealed the insufficient sensitivity of quantification procedures for accurate risk assessment according to the guidelines proposed by EFSA.

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