Perfluoroalkyl acids and sulfonamides and dietary, biological and ecological associations in peregrine falcons from the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin, Canada

By Jiachen Sun, Robert J Letcher, Marcel Eens, Adrian Covaci, and Kim J Fernie
Environ. Res.
September 9, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110151

Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large, diverse group of chemicals and several perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are known environmental contaminants. Wildlife exposure to PFAAs and precursors has been shown, but less is known regarding replacements such as shorter-chain PFAS. In the present study, exposure to a suite of PFAAs and associations with dietary, biological and ecological factors were investigated in populations of a sentinel apex species - the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus). Nestling blood (n = 57) and sibling eggs (n = 9) were sampled in 2016 and 2018 from nests in rural and urban regions across the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin, Canada. PFSAs (perfluorinated sulfonic acids) including PFHxS, PFOS, and PFDS were detected in most egg and plasma samples, whereas 11 PFCAs (perfluorinated carboxylic acids; C - C, C) compared to eight PFCAs (C - C, C) were detected in most eggs and plasma, respectively. Shorter-chain C - C PFCAs were more dominant in plasma and longer-chain C - C PFCAs in eggs, but profiles were similar for PFOS, PFDS, PFUdA and PFHxDA. The exposure to PFAAs in peregrine falcons is likely mediated by dietary factors such as foraging location (δC and δS) and trophic position (δN) given the associations observed in eggs and nestling plasma, respectively. Moreover, significant relationships were observed for circulating ΣPFCAs and region (rural/urban), and nestling body condition after adjusting for sampling year and dietary tracers, suggesting that compared to rural nestlings, urban nestlings may be more exposed to ΣPFCAs and prone to their potential physiological impacts. Our findings highlight the importance of integrating dietary, biological and ecological factors when studying PFAS exposure in birds.

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