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Modeling the Global Fate and Transport of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanoate (PFO) Emitted from Direct Sources Using a Multispecies Mass Balance Model

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journal contribution
posted on 15.02.2009, 00:00 by James M. Armitage, Matthew MacLeod, Ian T. Cousins
The global-scale fate and transport processes of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanoate (PFO) emitted from direct sources were simulated using a multispecies mass balance model over the period 1950 to 2010. The main goal of this study was to assess the atmospheric and oceanic long-range transport potential of direct source emissions and the implications for the contamination of terrestrial and marine systems worldwide. Consistent with previous modeling studies, ocean transport was found to be the dominant pathway for delivering PFO(A) associated with direct sources to the Arctic marine environment, regardless of model assumptions. The modeled concentrations for surface ocean waters were insensitive to assumptions regarding physical−chemical properties and emission mode of entry and were in reasonable agreement with available monitoring data from the Northern Hemisphere. In contrast, model outputs characterizing atmospheric transport potential were highly sensitive to model assumptions, especially the assumed value of the acid dissociation constant (pKa). However, the complete range of model results for scenarios with different assumptions about partitioning and emissions provide evidence that the atmospheric transport of directly emitted PFO(A) can deliver this substance to terrestrial environments distant from sources. Additional studies in remote or isolated terrestrial systems may provide further insight into the scale of contamination actually attributable to direct sources.