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Environmental Occurrence of Perfluoroalkyl Acids and Novel Fluorotelomer Surfactants in the Freshwater Fish Catostomus commersonii and Sediments Following Firefighting Foam Deployment at the Lac-Mégantic Railway Accident

Environmental Occurrence of Perfluoroalkyl Acids and Novel Fluorotelomer Surfactants in the Freshwater Fish Catostomus commersonii and Sediments Following Firefighting Foam Deployment at the Lac-Mégantic Railway Accident

Environmental Science and Technology 51(3): 1231-1240

On July 6th 2013, an unmanned train laden with almost 8 million liters of crude oil careened off the rails downtown Lac-Mégantic (Québec, Canada). In the aftermath of the derailment accident, the emergency response entailed the deployment of 33 000 L of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) concentrate that contained proprietary fluorosurfactants. The present study examines the environmental occurrence of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) and newly identified per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in the benthic fish white sucker (Catostomus commersonii) and sediments from Lake Mégantic and Chaudière River. In sediments, PFAAs displayed relatively low concentrations (∑PFAAs = 0.06-0.5 ng g-1 dw) while the sum of fluorotelomer-based PFASs was in the range < LOD-6.2 ng g-1 dw. Notably, fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaines (8:2-FTAB and 10:2-FTAB), fluorotelomer betaines (9:3-FTB, 11:3-FTB and 9:1:2 FTB) and 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonate (6:2-FTSA) were ubiquitously identified in the sediment samples surveyed. Levels of PFAAs remained moderate in fish muscle (e.g. 0.28-2.1 ng g-1 wet-weight), with little or no differences when comparing 2013 or 2014 fish samples with 2011 archived samples. In contrast, n:2-FTSAs emerged in the immediate weeks or months that followed the accident, as did several betaine-based PFASs (8:2-FTAB, 10:2-FTAB, 9:3-FTB, 11:3-FTB, 7:1:2 FTB and 9:1:2 FTB), observed for the first time in situ. Fluorotelomer thioether amido sulfonate (10:2-FTSAS) and fluorotelomer sulfoxide amido sulfonate (10:2-FTSAS-sulfoxide) were also occasionally reported after the AFFF spill. With time, levels of betaine-based PFASs gradually decreased in fish, possibly indicating attenuation by biodegradation of the fluorine-free moiety, supported by the observation of likely metabolites such as n:3-fluorotelomer carboxylates and n:2-fluorotelomer sulfonamides.

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Accession: 059687740

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 28056502

DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b05432

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