The PFOA substitute GenX detected in the environment near a fluoropolymer manufacturing plant in the Netherlands
By S.H. Brandsma, J.C. Koekkoek, M.J.M.van Velzen, and J.de Boer
October 14, 2019
The ban on perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) has led to the production and use of alternative fluorinated compounds such as GenX. Limited information is available on the occurrence of this PFOA substitute. In this pilot study, we investigated the presence of GenX in/on grass and leaf samples collected near a fluoropolymermanufacturing plant in the Netherlands and in drinking water produced from surface and surface-water influenced groundwater intake points within 25 km from the plant. GenX was detected in/on all grass and leaf samples collected within 3 km north-east from the plant, with levels ranging from 1 to 27 ng/g wet weight (ww) and 4.3–86 ng/g ww, respectively. The PFOA levels in/on grass and leaves were lower, ranging from 0.7 to 11 ng/g ww and 0.9–28 ng/g ww, respectively. A declining concentration gradient of GenX and PFOA with increasing distance from the plant was observed, which suggests that the plant is a point source of GenX and was a point source for PFOA in the past. In all drinking water samples, GenX and PFOA were detected with levels ranging from 1.4 to 8.0 ng/L and 1.9–7.1 ng/L, respectively. The detection of GenX, which is only used since 2012, in/on grass and leaves and in drinking water indicates that GenX is now distributed through the environment. The presence of GenX and PFOA in/on grass and leaves within 3 km north-east of the plant also suggests that these chemicals could also be present on the locally grown food in gardens around the factory.
• GenX detected in grass and leaves collected within 3 km from Teflon plant.
• Declining gradient of GenX with increasing distance from plant.
• Strong indications of plant being a point source of GenX.
• GenX and PFOA also detected in drinking water samples.