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Chemosphere. 2019 Apr;220:493-500. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2018.12.135. Epub 2018 Dec 27.

The PFOA substitute GenX detected in the environment near a fluoropolymer manufacturing plant in the Netherlands.

Author information

1
Vrije Universiteit, Dept. Environment and Health, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Electronic address: sicco.brandsma@vu.nl.
2
Vrije Universiteit, Dept. Environment and Health, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Abstract

The ban on perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) has led to the production and use of alternative fluorinated compounds such as GenX. Limited information is available on the occurrence of this PFOA substitute. In this pilot study, we investigated the presence of GenX in/on grass and leaf samples collected near a fluoropolymer manufacturing plant in the Netherlands and in drinking water produced from surface and surface-water influenced groundwater intake points within 25 km from the plant. GenX was detected in/on all grass and leaf samples collected within 3 km north-east from the plant, with levels ranging from 1 to 27 ng/g wet weight (ww) and 4.3-86 ng/g ww, respectively. The PFOA levels in/on grass and leaves were lower, ranging from 0.7 to 11 ng/g ww and 0.9-28 ng/g ww, respectively. A declining concentration gradient of GenX and PFOA with increasing distance from the plant was observed, which suggests that the plant is a point source of GenX and was a point source for PFOA in the past. In all drinking water samples, GenX and PFOA were detected with levels ranging from 1.4 to 8.0 ng/L and 1.9-7.1 ng/L, respectively. The detection of GenX, which is only used since 2012, in/on grass and leaves and in drinking water indicates that GenX is now distributed through the environment. The presence of GenX and PFOA in/on grass and leaves within 3 km north-east of the plant also suggests that these chemicals could also be present on the locally grown food in gardens around the factory.

KEYWORDS:

Drinking water; GenX; Grass; HFPO-DA; Leaves; Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

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