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Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Jul 17;46(14):7653-60. doi: 10.1021/es301160r. Epub 2012 Jun 29.

Enantiospecific perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) analysis reveals evidence for the source contribution of PFOS-precursors to the Lake Ontario foodweb.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6G 2G2.


Exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) may arise directly, from emission and exposure to PFOS itself, or indirectly via the environmental release and degradation of PFOS-precursors. Human serum enantiomer fractions (EFs) of 1m-PFOS have been shown to be nonracemic, suggesting that PFOS-precursors are a significant source of PFOS in humans, but little is known about the importance of PFOS-precursors in ecosystems. In the current work, concentrations of PFOS, perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA), PFOS isomer profiles, and EFs of 1m-PFOS were determined in Lake Ontario water, sediment, fishes and invertebrates. Concentrations of PFOS and PFOSA were highest in slimy sculpin and Diporeia, and concentrations of the two compounds were often correlated. 1m-PFOS was racemic in sediment, water, sculpin and rainbow smelt, but nonracemic in the top predator, lake trout, and all invertebrate species. Furthermore, EFs were correlated with the relative concentrations of PFOS and PFOSA in invertebrates. Overall, these empirical observations with a new analytical tool confirm previous suggestions that PFOS-precursors contribute to PFOS in the food web, likely via sediment. Implications are that future PFOS exposures in this ecosystem will be influenced by an in situ source, and that the apparent environmental behavior of PFOS (e.g., bioaccumulation potential) can be confounded by precursors.

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