Post GB, Gleason JA, Cooper KR. Key scientific issues in developing drinking water guidelines for perfluoroalkyl acids: Contaminants of emerging concern. PLoS Biol. 2017 Dec 20;15(12):e2002855. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2002855.
Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), a group of synthetic organic chemicals with industrial and commercial uses, are of current concern because of increasing awareness of their presence in drinking water and their potential to cause adverse health effects. PFAAs are distinctive among persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) contaminants because they are water soluble and do not break down in the environment. This commentary discusses scientific and risk assessment issues that impact the development of drinking water guidelines for PFAAs, including choice of toxicological endpoints, uncertainty factors, and exposure assumptions used as their basis. In experimental animals, PFAAs cause toxicity to the liver, the immune, endocrine, and male reproductive systems, and the developing fetus and neonate. Low-dose effects include persistent delays in mammary gland development (perfluorooctanoic acid; PFOA) and suppression of immune response (perfluorooctane sulfonate; PFOS). In humans, even general population level exposures to some PFAAs are associated with health effects such as increased serum lipids and liver enzymes, decreased vaccine response, and decreased birth weight. Ongoing exposures to even relatively low drinking water concentrations of long-chain PFAAs substantially increase human body burdens, which remain elevated for many years after exposure ends. Notably, infants are a sensitive subpopulation for PFAA’s developmental effects and receive higher exposures than adults from the same drinking water source. This information, as well as emerging data from future studies, should be considered in the development of health-protective and scientifically sound guidelines for PFAAs in drinking water.
Xiao F. Emerging poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances in the aquatic environment: A review of current literature. Water research 2017 Jul 15;124:482-495. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2017.07.024.
Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) comprise a group of synthetic organic surfactants with a wide range of industrial and commercial applications. A few PFASs such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) are now known to be ubiquitously present in the aquatic environment. They have become a global concern because of the toxicity and bioaccumulative properties. With the increasing availability of high-resolution mass spectrometers, many novel PFASs have been identified. Studies published between 2009 and 2017 have discovered 455 new PFASs (including nine fully and 446 partially fluorinated compounds), 45%, 29%, 17%, and 8% of which are anions, zwitterions, cations, and neutrals, respectively. They have been identified in natural waters, fish, sediments, wastewater, activated sludge, soils, aqueous film-forming foams, and commercial fluoropolymer surfactants. This article integrates and critically evaluates what is known about these newly identified PFASs. It discusses the different aspects of detection methodologies. It also surveys the removal of these compounds during conventional and advanced drinking-water and wastewater treatment, predicts the relevant physicochemical properties by means of four software programs, and identifies major knowledge gaps. Notably, a number of these newly identified PFASs are potential precursor compounds of PFOS and PFOA. Studies are critically needed to understand the removal and transformation of these compounds in natural and engineered environmental systems and their contribution, if any, to the secondary formation of PFOS and PFOA in these systems.
Kothawala DN, Köhler SJ, Östlund A, Wiberg K, Ahrens L. Influence of dissolved organic matter concentration and composition on the removal efficiency of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) during drinking water treatment. Water research. 2017 May 24;121:320-328. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2017.05.047.
Drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs) are constantly adapting to a host of emerging threats including the removal of micro-pollutants like perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), while concurrently considering how background levels of dissolved organic matter (DOM) influences their removal efficiency. Two adsorbents, namely anion exchange (AE) and granulated active carbon (GAC) have shown particular promise for PFAS removal, yet the influence of background levels of DOM remains poorly explored. Here we considered how the removal efficiency of 13 PFASs are influenced by two contrasting types of DOM at four concentrations, using both AE (Purolite A-600®) and GAC (Filtrasorb 400®). We placed emphasis on the pre-equilibrium conditions to gain better mechanistic insight into the dynamics between DOM, PFASs and adsorbents. We found AE to be very effective at removing both PFASs and DOM, while largely remaining resistant to even high levels of background DOM (8 mg carbon L-1) and surprisingly found that smaller PFASs were removed slightly more efficiently than longer chained counterparts, In contrast, PFAS removal efficiency with GAC was highly variable with PFAS chain length, often improving in the presence of DOM, but with variable response based on the type of DOM and PFAS chain length.
Rand AA, Mabury SA. Is there a human health risk associated with indirect exposure to perfluorinated carboxylates (PFCAs)? Toxicology. 2016 Nov 19. pii: S0300-483X(16)30281-5. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2016.11.011.
The production and widespread use of poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) has led to their presence in environment, wildlife, and humans. Particularly, the perfluorinated carboxylates (PFCAs) are pervasive throughout the world and have been found at ng/mL concentrations in human blood. PFCAs, especially those having longer carbon chain lengths (≥C6), are associated with developmental and hormonal effects, immunotoxicity, and promote tumor growth in rodents through their role as PPARα agonists. Humans are directly exposed to PFCAs primarily through contaminated food, drinking water, and house dust. However, indirect exposure to PFCAs through the biotransformation of fluorotelomer-based substances may also be a significant, yet relatively underappreciated pathway. We are exposed to fluorotelomer-based substances through use of consumer products, ingestion of food, or from inhalation of dust particles, but the risk of this exposure has been largely uncharacterized. Here, we summarize the work that has been done to characterize toxicity of the classes of fluorotelomer-based substances shown to biotransform to PFCAs: the polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters (PAPs), fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs), fluorotelomer iodides (FTIs), and fluorotelomer acrylate monomers (FTAcs). These fluorotelomer-based substances biotranform to yield PFCAs, yet also form bioactive intermediate metabolites, which have been observed to be more toxic than their corresponding PFCAs. We address what is known regarding the toxicity of the fluorotelomer-based substances and their metabolites, with focus on covalent binding to biological nucleophiles, such as glutathione, proteins, and DNA, as a possible mechanism of toxicity that may influence the risk of indirect exposure to PFCAs.