Trends (2005–2016) of perfluoroalkyl acids in top predator fish of the Laurentian Great Lakes

By Point, Adam D., Thomas M. Holsen, Sujan Fernando, Philip K. Hopke, and Bernard S. Crimmins
Sci. Total Environ.
March 16, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146151

This work presents the first assessment of temporal trends (2005–2016) for perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in top predator fish of the Laurentian Great Lakes except Lake Ontario, for which we provide a post-2008 update. Lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) or walleye (Sander vitreus; Lake Erie only) collected annually from 2005 to 2016 were analyzed for 12 perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs) and 4 perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids (PFSAs) with carbon chain lengths between 4 and 16 (C4-C16). Individual analyte concentrations generally decreased in fish basin-wide between 2005 and 2016, including Lake Ontario lake trout previously found to lack declining PFAA concentrations up until 2008. Declining fish PFAA burden reflects a positive response to the industrial phase-outs of these chemicals. Notable exceptions to this general decline included most analytes in lake trout collected from Lake Superior near Keweenaw Point and C6 and C8 PFSAs and C9 PFCAs in Lake Erie lake trout and walleye, which exhibited constant or increasing concentrations in recent years. Recent increases in Lake Superior shoreline development and mobilization from increased sediment resuspension and contamination from biosolids-amended agricultural soils in the Lake Erie watershed are plausible explanations for these cases. However, data scarcity prohibits confirmation of these suspected causes. The lingering lack of declining concentrations noted in this study together with the ongoing evolution of the fluorinated chemical industry emphasize the vigilance needed to better understand how past and future emissions will affect the Great Lakes and global ecosystems.


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