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.
Valsecchi S, Conti D, Crebelli R, Polesello S, Rusconi M, Mazzoni M, Preziosi E, Carere M, Lucentini L, Ferretti E, Balzamo S, Simeone MG, Aste F. Deriving environmental quality standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and related short chain perfluorinated alkyl acids. Journal of hazardous materials.2016 Apr 22. pii: S0304-3894(16)30396-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2016.04.055.
The evidence that in Northern Italy significant sources of perfluoroalkylacids (PFAA) are present induced the Italian government to establish a Working Group on Environmental Quality Standard (EQS) for PFAA in order to include some of them in the list of national specific pollutants for surface water monitoring according to the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). The list of substances included perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and related short chain PFAA such as perfluorobutanoate (PFBA), perfluoropentanoate (PFPeA), perfluorohexanoate (PFHxA) and perfluorobutanesulfonate (PFBS), which is a substitute of perfluorooctanesulfonate. For each of them a dossier collects available data on regulation, physico-chemical properties, emission and sources, occurrence, acute and chronic toxicity on aquatic species and mammals, including humans. Quality standards (QS) were derived for the different protection objectives (pelagic and benthic communities, predators by secondary poisoning, human health via consumption of fishery products and water) according to the European guideline. The lowest QS is finally chosen as the relevant EQS. For PFOA a QS for biota was derived for protection from secondary poisoning and the corresponding QS for water was back-calculated, obtaining a freshwater EQS of 0.1μgL-1. For PFBA, PFPeA, PFHxA and PFBS threshold limits proposed for drinking waters were adopted as EQS.
Tian Z, Kim SK, Shoeib M, Oh JE, Park JE. Human exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) via house dust in Korea: Implication to exposure pathway. The Science of the total environment. 2016 Feb 27;553:266-275. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.087.
A wide range of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), including fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs), perfluorooctane sulfonamidoethanols (FOSEs), perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs), and perfluoroalkane sulfonic acids (PFSAs), were measured in fifteen house dust and two nonresidential indoor dust of Korea. Total concentrations of PFASs in house dust ranged from 29.9 to 97.6ngg-1, with a dominance of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), followed by 8:2 FTOH, N-Ethyl perfluorooctane sulfonamidoethanol (EtFOSE), perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA). In a typical exposure scenario, the estimated daily intakes (EDIs) of total PFASs via house dust ingestion were 2.83ngd-1 for toddlers and 1.13ngd-1 for adults, which were within the range of the mean EDIs reported from several countries. For PFOA and PFOS exposure via house dust ingestion, indirect exposure (via precursors) was a minor contributor, accounting for 5% and 12%, respectively. An aggregated exposure (hereafter, overall-EDIs) of PFOA and PFOS occurring via all pathways, estimated using data compiled from the literature, were 53.6 and 14.8ngd-1 for toddlers, and 20.5 and 40.6ngd-1 for adults, respectively, in a typical scenario. These overall-EDIs corresponded to 82% (PFOA) and 92% (PFOS) of a pharmacokinetic model-based EDIs estimated from adults’ serum data. Direct dietary exposure was a major contributor (>89% of overall-EDI) to PFOS in both toddlers and adults, and PFOA in toddlers. As for PFOA exposure of adults, however direct exposure via tap water drinking (37%) and indirect exposure via inhalation (22%) were as important as direct dietary exposure (41%). House dust-ingested exposure (direct+indirect) was responsible for 5% (PFOS in toddlers) and <1% (PFOS in adults, and PFOA in both toddlers and adults) of the overall-EDIs. In conclusion, house-dust ingestion was a minor contributor in this study, but should not be ignored for toddlers’ PFOS exposure due to its significance in the worst-case scenario.
Gyllenhammar I, Berger U, Sundström M, McCleaf P, Eurén K, Eriksson S, Ahlgren S, Lignell S, Aune M, Kotova N, Glynn A. Influence of contaminated drinking water on perfluoroalkyl acid levels in human serum – A case study from Uppsala, Sweden. Environmental Research. 2015 Jun 12;140:673-683. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.05.019.
In 2012 a contamination of drinking water with perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) was uncovered in the City of Uppsala, Sweden. The aim of the present study was to determine how these substances have been distributed from the contamination source through the groundwater to the drinking water and how the drinking water exposure has influenced the levels of PFAAs in humans over time. The results show that PFAA levels in groundwater measured 2012-2014 decreased downstream from the point source, although high ΣPFAA levels (>100ng/L) were still found several kilometers from the point source in the Uppsala aquifer. The usage of aqueous film forming fire-fighting foams (AFFF) at a military airport in the north of the city is probably an important contamination source. Computer simulation of the distribution of PFAA-contaminated drinking water throughout the City using a hydraulic model of the pipeline network suggested that consumers in the western and southern parts of Uppsala have received most of the contaminated drinking water. PFAA levels in blood serum from 297 young women from Uppsala County, Sweden, sampled during 1996-1999 and 2008-2011 were analyzed. Significantly higher concentrations of perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) were found among women who lived in districts modeled to have received contaminated drinking water compared to unaffected districts both in 1996-1999 and 2008-2011, indicating that the contamination was already present in the late 1990s. Isomer-specific analysis of PFHxS in serum showed that women in districts with contaminated drinking water also had an increased percentage of branched isomers. Our results further indicate that exposure via contaminated drinking water was the driving factor behind the earlier reported increasing temporal trends of PFBS and PFHxS in blood serum from young women in Uppsala.
Flores C, Ventura F, Martin-Alonso J, Caixach J. Occurrence of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) in N.E. Spanish surface waters and their removal in a drinking water treatment plant that combines conventional and advanced treatments in parallel lines. Science of The Total Environment. Volumes 461–462, 1 September 2013, Pages 618–626. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.05.026.
Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) are two emerging contaminants that have been detected in all environmental compartments. However, while most of the studies in the literature deal with their presence or removal in wastewater treatment, few of them are devoted to their detection in treated drinking water and fate during drinking water treatment. In this study, analyses of PFOS and PFOA have been carried out in river water samples and in the different stages of a drinking water treatment plant (DWTP) which has recently improved its conventional treatment process by adding ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis in a parallel treatment line. Conventional and advanced treatments have been studied in several pilot plants and in the DWTP, which offers the opportunity to compare both treatments operating simultaneously. From the results obtained, neither preoxidation, sand filtration, nor ozonation, removed both perfluorinated compounds. As advanced treatments, reverse osmosis has proved more effective than reverse electrodialysis to remove PFOA and PFOS in the different configurations of pilot plants assayed. Granular activated carbon with an average elimination efficiency of 64±11% and 45±19% for PFOS and PFOA, respectively and especially reverse osmosis, which was able to remove ≥99% of both compounds, were the sole effective treatment steps. Trace levels of PFOS (3.0-21ng/L) and PFOA (<4.2-5.5ng/L) detected in treated drinking water were significantly lowered in comparison to those measured in precedent years. These concentrations represent overall removal efficiencies of 89±22% for PFOA and 86±7% for PFOS.
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Xiao, Feng, Matt F., Gulliver, John S. Mechanisms for removal of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) from drinking water by conventional and enhanced coagulation. Water Research, Jan2013, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p49-56
Abstract: Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) are persistent organic pollutants that have been found to be ubiquitous in the environment. This article, for the first time, delineates removal areas of these polar compounds on a coagulation diagram that associates chemical conditions with different coagulation mechanisms. Variables considered were solution pH, coagulant dosage, coagulants (alum and ferric chloride), natural organic matter (NOM), initial turbidity, and flocculation time. The jar-test results show that conventional coagulation (alum dosage of 10–60 mg/L and final pH of 6.5–8.0) removed ≤20% of PFOS and PFOA. These chemicals tended to be removed better by enhanced coagulation at higher coagulant dosages (>60 mg/L) and (thus) lower final pH (4.5–6.5). A coagulation diagram was developed to define the coagulant dosage and solution pH for PFOS/PFOA removal. The results suggest that the primary PFOS/PFOA removal mechanism is adsorption to fine Al hydroxide flocs freshly formed during the initial stage of coagulation; increasing flocculation time from 2 to 90 min could not further improve PFOS and PFOA removals. Furthermore, the effect of NOM on PFOS/PFOA removal by coagulation was examined, and possible removal mechanisms were discussed.
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Post, G.B., Cohn, P.D., Cooper, K.R. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), an emerging drinking water contaminant: A critical review of recent literature. Environmental Research, Volume 116, July 2012, Pages 93–117.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is an anthropogenic contaminant that differs in several ways from most other well-studied organic chemicals found in drinking water. PFOA is extremely resistant to environmental degradation processes and thus persists indefinitely. Unlike most other persistent and bioaccumulative organic pollutants, PFOA is water-soluble, does not bind well to soil or sediments, and bioaccumulates in serum rather than in fat. It has been detected in finished drinking water and drinking water sources impacted by releases from industrial facilities and waste water treatment plants, as well as in waters with no known point sources. However, the overall occurrence and population exposure from drinking water is not known. PFOA persists in humans with a half-life of several years and is found in the serum of almost all U.S. residents and in populations worldwide. Exposure sources include food, food packaging, consumer products, house dust, and drinking water. Continued exposure to even relatively low concentrations in drinking water can substantially increase total human exposure, with a serum:drinking water ratio of about 100:1. For example, ongoing exposures to drinking water concentrations of 10 ng/L, 40 ng/L, 100 ng/L, or 400 ng/L are expected to increase mean serum levels by about 25%, 100%, 250%, and 1000%, respectively, from the general population background serum level of about 4 ng/mL. Infants are potentially a sensitive subpopulation for PFOA’s developmental effects, and their exposure through breast milk from mothers who use contaminated drinking water and/or from formula prepared with contaminated drinking water is higher than in adults exposed to the same drinking water concentration. Numerous health endpoints are associated with human PFOA exposure in the general population, communities with contaminated drinking water, and workers. As is the case for most such epidemiology studies, causality for these effects is not proven. Unlike most other well-studied drinking water contaminants, the human dose-response curve for several effects appears to be steepest at the lower exposure levels, including the general population range, with no apparent threshold for some endpoints. There is concordance in animals and humans for some effects, while humans and animals appear to react differently for other effects such as lipid metabolism. PFOA was classified as “likely to be carcinogenic in humans” by the USEPA Science Advisory Board. In animal studies, developmental effects have been identified as more sensitive endpoints for toxicity than carcinogenicity or the long-established hepatic effects. Notably, exposure to an environmentally relevant drinking water concentration caused adverse effects on mammary gland development in mice. This paper reviews current information relevant to the assessment of PFOA as an emerging drinking water contaminant. This information suggests that continued human exposure to even relatively low concentrations of PFOA in drinking water results in elevated body burdens that may increase the risk of health effects.
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