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Linear and Branched Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Isomer Patterns in Herring Gull Eggs from Colonial Sites Across the Laurentian Great Lakes

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journal contribution
posted on 15.05.2010, 00:00 by Wouter A. Gebbink, Robert J. Letcher
Linear and branched (six mono(trifluoromethyl) and four di(trifluoromethyl)) isomers of the bioaccumulative contaminant perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) were analyzed for and the spatial patterns examined in individual herring gull (Larus argentatus) eggs (n = 13 per site) collected (in 2007) from 15 colonies across the Laurentian Great Lakes of North America. Linear PFOS (n-perfluoro-1-octanesulfonate (L-PFOS)) consistently dominated the isomer pattern in all eggs, comprising between 95.0% and 98.3% of the ∑PFOS concentration. L-PFOS was highly enriched in the gull eggs as the ∑branched-PFOS to L-PFOS isomer concentration ratios were very constant (overall average 0.038 ± 0.001) and much lower compared to technical PFOS (range 0.27−0.54). The highest proportions of L-PFOS were generally observed in the eggs from the lower lakes (Erie and Ontario) colonies. All six mono(trifluoromethyl) branched isomers, or perfluoro-n-methyl-heptanesulfonates where n describes the carbon of the hydrocarbon chain were there is trifluoromethyl substitution relative to the sulfonate terminal group, were detected in the eggs from all the colonies. For example, P1MHpS is perfluoro-1-methyl-heptanesulfonate. Comparable to technical PFOS (T-PFOS), the percentage of the mono(trifluoromethyl) isomer to ∑PFOS concentration decreased as the branch substitution was located closer to the sulfonate group, that is, P6MHpS (0%−2.5%), P5MHpS (0.43%−1.18%), P4MHpS (0.25%−0.69%), and P3MHpS (0.32%−0.74%). Although at even lower fractional composition than the mono(trifluoromethyl) isomers, of the di(trifluoromethyl) isomers, detected in >60% of the individual eggs per site was P35DMHxS and P45DMHxS for Toronto Harbour (Lake Ontario), P35DMHxS for Chantry (Lake Huron) and Fighting Island (Detroit River), and P45DMHxS for Gull Island (Lake Michigan). Relative to T-PFOS, and independent of colonial location, the high and consistent enrichment of L-PFOS in gull eggs is likely a function of several processes including PFOS or precursor sources, and isomer-specific PFOS or precursor exposure, accumulation, biotransformation, retention and/or elimination. The results of this study suggests that the apparent dilution of the mono(fluoromethyl) isomers from environmental processes that occur prior to final accumulation in herring gull eggs, is independent of the mono(fluoromethyl) isomer structure.