Ship navigation disturbance alters multiphase distribution of perfluoroalkyl acids and increases their ecological risk in waterways

By Yixin Ma, Peng Wang, Zulin Hua, Ying Lu, and Yundong Yang
Sci Total Environ
July 6, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.148576

As a global persistent organic pollutant, perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) have aroused great public concern. However, little is known regarding the effect of ship navigation disturbance on the transport and fate of PFAAs in inland waterways developed regions. In the present study, overlying water, pore water, suspended particulate matter (SPM), and sediment were collected from waterways (WWs), non-navigable channels (NCs), and ports (PTs) in Taihu Lake Basin. The results revealed that the total concentrations of PFAAs (ΣPFAAs) in WWs, NCs, and PTs varied considerably in different media. In overlying water, the mean ΣPFAAs in WWs were the highest, while those of NCs were relatively higher in the remaining three media. A comparison of PFAA distribution coefficients revealed that the values in NCs were generally higher than those of WWs and PTs, suggesting the critical role of ship navigation in PFAA transport. Furthermore, a structural equation model was applied to estimate direct and indirect effects of environmental factors on PFAA partitioning behavior. The results revealed that ship traffic volume (STV) exerted indirect effects on PFAA distribution between solid and dissolved phases by influencing dissolved oxygen, total suspended solid concentration, clay and sand contents, and median diameter. PFAAs were more readily to be released into overlying water from pore water than in sediment, and the ΣPFAAs carried per gram of SPM decreased with an increase in STV. Ecological risk assessment and Monte Carlo simulation results revealed that ship navigation could exert adverse effects on aquatic organisms, making the average probability of RQ values to exceed corresponding risk values in WWs, which were 1.3-2-fold higher than in NCs. The present study provides crucial information for simulating the environmental behaviors of PFAAs under the influence of ship navigation and is significant for the integration of inland water transport development and aquatic environmental protection.

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