PFOS in U.S. Ambient Surface Waters: A Review of Occurrence in Aquatic Environments and Comparison to Global Concentrations

By Amanda L Jarvis, James R Justice, Michael C Elias, Brian Schnitker, and Kathryn Gallagher
Environ Toxicol Chem
July 6, 2021
DOI: 10.1002/etc.5147

PFOS is one of the dominant PFAS detected in aquatic ecosystems. PFOS has been used in a wide range of industrial and consumer products for decades. The unique properties of PFOS, including its stability and resistance to degradation, have made it highly persistent in the aquatic environment. Due to its persistence, potential toxicity, and occurrence in aquatic ecosystems, interest in PFOS has increased in recent decades. Despite this interest, current information on the environmental distribution of PFOS in ambient surface waters of the United States (U.S) is fairly limited. This critical review summarizes currently available literature on PFOS occurrence in surface waters across the U.S. and highlights existing data gaps. Available data are largely from a handful of study areas with known PFAS manufacturing or industrial uses, with much of the data collected from freshwater systems in eastern states and the upper midwest. Measured PFOS concentrations in surface waters vary widely, over eight orders of magnitude, with the highest concentrations occurring downstream from manufacturing and industrial use plants, areas near aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) use sites, and sites where PFOS precursors were used in textile treatment. Non-point source related occurrences are highest near urbanized areas with high population densities. Current data illustrates the occurrence of PFOS in surface waters across multiple U.S. states. Additional data are needed to better understand PFOS occurrence in U.S. aquatic ecosystems, particularly in estuarine and marine systems and where monitoring data are not available (e.g., southwestern, central, and western U.S.). Additional PFOS occurrence data would provide valuable information on potential spatial and temporal variability in surface waters, and possible risks posed to aquatic ecosystems. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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