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      Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in the Environment: Terminology, Classification, and Origins


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          The primary aim of this article is to provide an overview of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) detected in the environment, wildlife, and humans, and recommend clear, specific, and descriptive terminology, names, and acronyms for PFASs. The overarching objective is to unify and harmonize communication on PFASs by offering terminology for use by the global scientific, regulatory, and industrial communities. A particular emphasis is placed on long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids, substances related to the long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids, and substances intended as alternatives to the use of the long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids or their precursors. First, we define PFASs, classify them into various families, and recommend a pragmatic set of common names and acronyms for both the families and their individual members. Terminology related to fluorinated polymers is an important aspect of our classification. Second, we provide a brief description of the 2 main production processes, electrochemical fluorination and telomerization, used for introducing perfluoroalkyl moieties into organic compounds, and we specify the types of byproducts (isomers and homologues) likely to arise in these processes. Third, we show how the principal families of PFASs are interrelated as industrial, environmental, or metabolic precursors or transformation products of one another. We pay particular attention to those PFASs that have the potential to be converted, by abiotic or biotic environmental processes or by human metabolism, into long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic or sulfonic acids, which are currently the focus of regulatory action. The Supplemental Data lists 42 families and subfamilies of PFASs and 268 selected individual compounds, providing recommended names and acronyms, and structural formulas, as well as Chemical Abstracts Service registry numbers. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2011;7:513–541. © 2011 SETAC

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          Sources, fate and transport of perfluorocarboxylates.

          This review describes the sources, fate, and transport of perfluorocarboxylates (PFCAs) in the environment, with a specific focus on perfluorooctanoate (PFO). The global historical industry-wide emissions of total PFCAs from direct (manufacture, use, consumer products) and indirect (PFCA impurities and/or precursors) sources were estimated to be 3200-7300 tonnes. It was estimated that the majority (approximately 80%) of PFCAs have been released to the environment from fluoropolymer manufacture and use. Although indirect sources were estimated to be much less importantthan direct sources, there were larger uncertainties associated with the calculations for indirect sources. The physical-chemical properties of PFO (negligible vapor pressure, high solubility in water, and moderate sorption to solids) suggested that PFO would accumulate in surface waters. Estimated mass inventories of PFO in various environmental compartments confirmed that surface waters, especially oceans, contain the majority of PFO. The only environmental sinks for PFO were identified to be sediment burial and transport to the deep oceans, implying a long environmental residence time. Transport pathways for PFCAs in the environment were reviewed, and it was concluded that, in addition to atmospheric transport/degradation of precursors, atmospheric and ocean water transport of the PFCAs themselves could significantly contribute to their long-range transport. It was estimated that 2-12 tonnes/ year of PFO are transported to the Artic by oceanic transport, which is greater than the amount estimated to result from atmospheric transport/degradation of precursors.
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            Global Distribution of Perfluorooctane Sulfonate in Wildlife

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              Biological monitoring of polyfluoroalkyl substances: A review.

              Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFSs) are used in industrial and commercial products and can degrade to persistent perfluorocarboxylates (PFCAs) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFSAs). Temporal trend studies using human, fish, bird, and marine mammal samples indicate that exposure to PFSs has increased significantly over the past 15-25 years. This review summarizes the biological monitoring of PFCAs, PFSAs, and related PFSs in wildlife and humans, compares concentrations and contamination profiles among species and locations, evaluatesthe bioaccumulation/biomagnification in the environment, discusses possible sources, and identifies knowledge gaps. PFSs can reach elevated concentrations in humans and wildlife inhabiting industrialized areas of North America, Europe, and Asia (2-30,000 ng/ mL or ng/g of wet weight (ww)). PFSs have also been detected in organisms from the Arctic and mid-ocean islands (< or = 3000 ng/g ww). In humans, PFSAs and PFCAs have been shown to vary among ethnic groups and PFCA/PFSA profiles differ from those in wildlife with high proportions of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate. The pattern of contamination in wildlife varied among species and locations suggesting multiple emission sources. Food web analyses have shown that PFCAs and PFSAs can bioaccumulate and biomagnify in marine and freshwater ecosystems. Knowledge gaps with respect to the transport, accumulation, biodegradation, temporal/spatial trends and PFS precursors have been identified. Continuous monitoring with key sentinel species and standardization of analytical methods are recommended.

                Author and article information

                Integr Environ Assess Manag
                Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management
                John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
                October 2011
                25 July 2011
                : 7
                : 4
                : 513-541
                []simpleE.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Inc., DuPont Chemicals and Fluoroproducts Wilmington, Delaware, USA
                []simpleCLF-Chem Consulting 3 Clos du Châtaignier, BE-1390 Grez-Doiceau, Belgium
                [§ ]simpleDepartment of Applied Environmental Science (ITM), Stockholm University Stockholm, Sweden
                []simpleENVIRON International Irvine, California, USA
                [# ]simpleInstitute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                [†† ]simpleNordic Institute for Product Sustainability, Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology (NIPSECT) Frederiksberg, Denmark
                [‡‡ ]simpleWadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, and Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, State University of New York at Albany Albany, New York, USA
                [§§ ]simpleDepartment of Chemistry, University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada
                [‖‖ ]simpleRIKILT—Institute of Food Safety Wageningen, The Netherlands
                Author notes
                * To whom correspondence may be addressed: james.franklin@ 123456skynet.be

                All Supplemental Data may be found in the online version of this article.

                Copyright © 2011 SETAC

                Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Creative Commons Deed, Attribution 2.5, which does not permit commercial exploitation.

                : 02 May 2011
                : 26 May 2011
                : 05 July 2011
                Critical Review

                General environmental science
                General environmental science
                acronyms, perfluoroalkyl, polyfluoroalkyl, pfas, terminology


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