Per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at high concentrations in neonatal Australian pinnipeds

By Taylor, Shannon, Michael Terkildsen, Gavin Stevenson, Jesuina de Araujo, Chunhai Yu, Alan Yates, Rebecca R. McIntosh, and Rachael Gray
Sci. Tot. Env.
May 5, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.147446

Per and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) exposure was investigated in Australian pinnipeds. Concentrations of 16 PFAS was measured in the livers of Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea), Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) and a long-nosed Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) pup sampled between 2017 and 2020 from colonies in South Australia and Victoria. Findings reported in this study are the first documented PFAS concentrations in Australian pinnipeds.

Median and observed range of values in ng/g wet weight were highest for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) in the liver of N. cinerea (PFOS = 7.14, 1.00–16.9; PFOA = 2.73, 0.32–11.2; PFNA = 2.96, 0.61–8.22; n = 28), A. forsteri (PFOS = 15.98, PFOA = 2.02, PFNA = 7.86; n = 1) and A. p. doriferus (PFOS = 27.4, 10.5–2119; PFOA = 0.98, 0.32–52.2; PFNA = 2.50, 0.91–44.2; n = 20). PFAS concentrations in A. p. doriferus pups were significantly greater (p < 0.05) than in N. cinerea pups for all PFAS except PFOA and were of similar magnitude to those reported in northern hemisphere marine animals. These results demonstrate exposure differences in both magnitude and PFAS profiles for N. cinerea in South Australia and A. p. doriferus in Victoria.

This study reports detectable PFAS concentrations in Australian pinniped pups indicating the importance of maternal transfer of these toxicants. As N. cinerea are endangered and recent declines in pup production has been reported for A. p. doriferus at the colony sampled, investigation of potential health impacts of these toxicants on Australian pinnipeds is recommended.


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