Spatial and Interspecies Heterogeneity in Concentrations of Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in Seabirds of the Southern Ocean.

By Roscales J.L., Vicente A., Ryan P.G., González-Solís J., Jiménez B.
Enviro. Sci. & Tech.
August 14, 2019
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b02677

In this study, we evaluate the main factors driving the exposure of Southern Ocean seabirds to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) across a wide geographic range. Five perfluoroalkane sulfonates (PFSAs, C4-12), 10 perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs, C4-13), and perfluorooctane sulfonamide (FOSA) were analyzed in plasma (n = 128) from eight species, including penguins, giant petrels, skuas, albatrosses, and shearwaters, breeding at four sites in the Antarctic, sub-Antarctic, and adjacent cool-temperate regions. Mean ∑PFAS concentrations ranged from 0.53 to 53 ng/g wet weight from black-browed albatross to giant petrels, respectively. As expected due to biomagnification, greater concentrations of most PFASs were found in species near the top of marine food webs such as giant petrels. However, our results suggest that other factors, i.e., metabolic capabilities and spatial movements, can mask interspecies differences in PFASs, especially PFCAs, expected from trophic structure. For instance, trans-equatorial migratory seabirds exhibited PFAS levels and profiles that are consistent with northern hemisphere exposure, reflecting their potential biovector role in the global transport of these pollutants. Among resident species, greater concentrations of PFASs, especially long-chain PFCAs, were found in seabirds breeding or foraging north of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) than in those restricted to Antarctic/sub-Antarctic distributions. Moreover, composition profiles of PFAS in Antarctic seabirds agree well with those expected from long-range transport. Our results confirm the importance of the ACC in protecting Antarctic food webs from water-phase-transported PFASs.