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Environ Sci Technol. 2009 Aug 1;43(15):5830-6.

Comparative assessment of the global fate and transport pathways of long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs) and perfluorocarboxylates (PFCs) emitted from direct sources.

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Department of Applied Environmental Science (ITM), Stockholm University, SE-10691 Stockholm, Sweden.


A global-scale multispecies mass balance model was used to simulate the long-term fate and transport of perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs) with eight to thirteen carbons (C8-C13) and their conjugate bases, the perfluorocarboxylates (PFCs). The main purpose of this study was to assess the relative long-range transport (LRT) potential of each conjugate pair, collectively termed PFC(A)s, considering emissions from direct sources (i.e., manufacturing and use) only. Overall LRT potential (atmospheric + oceanic) varied as a function of chain length and depended on assumptions regarding pKa and mode of entry. Atmospheric transport makes a relatively higher contribution to overall LRT potential for PFC(A)s with longer chain length, which reflects the increasing trend in the air-water partition coefficient (K(AW)) of the neutral PFCA species with chain length. Model scenarios using estimated direct emissions of the C8, C9, and C11 PFC(A)s indicate that the mass fluxes to the Arctic marine environment associated with oceanic transport are in excess of mass fluxes from indirect sources (i.e., atmospheric transport of precursor substances such as fluorotelomer alcohols and subsequent degradation to PFCAs). Modeled concentrations of C8 and C9 in the abiotic environment are broadly consistent with available monitoring data in surface ocean waters. Furthermore, the modeled concentration ratios of C8 to C9 are reconcilable with the homologue pattern frequently observed in biota, assuming a positive correlation between bioaccumulation potential and chain length. Modeled concentration ratios of C11 to C10 are more difficult to reconcile with monitoring data in both source and remote regions. Our model results for C11 and C10 therefore imply that either (i) indirect sources are dominant or (ii) estimates of direct emission are not accurate for these homologues.

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