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Certain Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Associated with Aqueous Film Forming Foam Are Widespread in Canadian Surface Waters

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journal contribution
posted on 07.11.2017 by Lisa A. D’Agostino, Scott A. Mabury
The presence of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) commonly associated with aqueous film forming foams (AFFFs) at sites without known AFFF contamination is a largely unexplored area, which may reveal widespread environmental contaminants requiring further investigation. Sensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) screening for 23 classes of PFASs, followed by quantitative analysis was used to investigate surface waters from rural, urban, and AFFF-impacted sites in Canada. The PFASs detected included perfluorohexane sulfonamide (FHxSA), 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide (FTSAm), fluorotelomer sulfonamide alkylbetaines (FTABs), fluorotelomer betaines (FTBs), 6:2 fluorotelomer mercaptoalkylamido sulfonate sulfone (FTSAS-SO2), 6:2 fluorotelomerthiohydroxyl ammonium sulfoxide (FTSHA-SO), 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide alkylamine (FTAA) and C3 to C6 perfluoroalkane sulfonamido amphoterics. Detection of FHxSA in all urban and AFFF-impacted sites (0.04–19 ng/L) indicates the widespread presence of rarely considered perfluorohexanesulfonate (PFHxS) precursors in Canadian waters. FTABs and FTBs were especially abundant with up to 16–33 ng/L of 6:2 FTAB in urban and AFFF-impacted water suggesting it may have additional applications, while FTBs were only in AFFF-impacted sites (qualitative; ∑FTBs 80 ng/L). The distributions of PFASs moving downstream along the AFFF-impacted Welland River and between water and sediment suggested differences in the persistence of various AFFF components and enhanced sorption of long-chain fluorotelomer betaines. Total organofluorine combustion-ion chromatography (TOF-CIC) revealed that fluorotelomer betaines were a substantial portion of the organofluorine in some waters and 36–99.7% of the total organofluorine was not measured in the targeted analysis.