Up in the air: Polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters (PAPs) in airborne dust captured by air conditioning (AC) filters
By Alina S Timshina, William J Sobczak, Emily K Griffin, Ashley M Lin, Timothy G Townsend, and John A Bowden
March 4, 2023
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are ubiquitously present in our indoor living environments. Dust is thought to accumulate PFAS released indoors and serve as an exposure pathway for humans. Here, we investigated whether spent air conditioning (AC) filters can be exploited as opportunistic samplers of airborne dust for assessing PFAS burden in indoor environments. Used AC filters from campus facilities (n = 19) and homes (n = 11) were analyzed for 92 PFAS via targeted ultra-high pressure liquid chromatography - tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS). While 27 PFAS were measured (in at least one filter), the predominant species were polyfluorinated dialkylated phosphate esters (diPAPs), with the sum of 6:2-, 8:2-, and 6:2/8:2diPAPs accounting for approximately 95 and 98 percent of ∑PFAS in campus and household filters, respectively. Exploratory screening of a subset of the filters revealed the presence of additional species of mono-, di-, and tri-PAPs. Considering the constant human exposure to dust indoors and the potential of PAPs to degrade into terminal species with well-established toxicological risks, assessing dust for these precursor PFAS warrants further investigation with respect to both human health and PFAS loading to landfills from this under studied waste stream.