Transport and environmental risks of perfluoroalkyl acids in a large irrigation and drainage system for agricultural production

By Meng Zhang, Pei Wang, Yonglong Lu, Yajuan Shi, Cong Wang, Bin Sun, Xiaoqian Li, Shuai Song, Mingzhao Yu, Jixin Zhao, Di Du, Wenyou Qin, Ting Wang, Guoxiang Han, Zhaoyang Liu, Yvette Baninla, and Anqi Zhang
Environ Int
September 11, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106856

The quality of irrigation water and drainage water is essential for local ecosystem and human health in agricultural regions. In this study, the transport analysis, source identification, and environmental risk assessment of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) were conducted in the largest irrigation area in northern China. The concentrations of the total PFAAs (ΣPFAA) ranged from 41.5 to 263 ng/L in surface water, and the short-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), were dominant with a total contribution of 94%. Generally, the ΣPFAA levels increased from irrigation waters to drainage and receiving lake waters. PFOA showed the highest increase, with potential emission sources located in the catchment of the sub main drainage ditch D5. More PFOA (36.8 kg/y) was outflowed from Ulansuhai Lake to the Yellow River than that inflowed from the Yellow River to the irrigation district (6.15 kg/y). The results of a risk assessment indicated that avian wildlife living in Ulansuhai Lake were threatened by the PFOA and perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS) pollution. The estimated daily intakes (EDIs) of the sum of the PFOA, perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) through aquatic food consumption for people with the different aquatic food preferences accounted for 6-42% (urban) and 4-27% (rural) of the strictest tolerant daily intake (TDI) value. The results of this study highlight the impact of local emissions of PFAS on massive irrigation and drainage systems, and ultimately, the ecosystem and human health.

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