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Environ Sci Technol. 2018 Mar 6;52(5):2603-2611. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b03876. Epub 2018 Feb 21.

Biodegradation and Uptake of the Pesticide Sulfluramid in a Soil-Carrot Mesocosm.

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Department of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Technology , University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) , Bilbao , Spain.
Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry (ACES) , Stockholm University , Stockholm , Sweden.
Department of Oceanography , Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina , Florianópolis , Brazil.
Research Centre for Experimental Marine Biology and Biotechnology (PIE) , University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) , Plentzia , Spain.


N-ethyl perfluorooctane sulfonamide (EtFOSA) is the active ingredient of Sulfluramid, a pesticide which is used extensively in South America for control of leaf-cutting ants. Despite being a known precursor to perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), the importance of EtFOSA as a source of environmental PFOS remains unclear. In the present work, uptake, leaching, and biodegradation of EtFOSA and its transformation products were assessed over 81 days in soil-carrot ( Daucus carota ssp sativus) mesocosms for the first time. Experiments performed in the presence of carrot produced PFOS yields of up to 34% using a technical EtFOSA standard and up to 277% using Grão Forte, a commercial Sulfluramid bait formulation containing 0.0024% EtFOSA. Perfluorooctane sulfonamido acetate (FOSAA), perfluorooctane sulfonamide (FOSA), and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) also formed over the course of the experiments, with the latter substance attributed to the presence of perfluorooctanamide impurities. The leachate contained low levels of transformation products and a high FOSA:PFOS ratio, consistent with recent observations in Brazilian surface water. In carrots, the more hydrophilic transformation products (e.g., PFOS) occurred primarily in the leaves, while the more hydrophobic products (e.g., FOSA, FOSAA, and EtFOSA) occurred in the peel and core. Remarkably, isomer-specific analysis revealed that the linear EtFOSA isomer biodegraded significantly faster than branched isomers. These data collectively show that the application of Sulfluramid baits can lead to the occurrence of PFOS in crops and in the surrounding environment, in considerably higher yields than previously thought.


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