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      Are PFCAs Bioaccumulative? A Critical Review and Comparison with Regulatory Criteria and Persistent Lipophilic Compounds

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      Environmental Science & Technology
      American Chemical Society (ACS)

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          Perfluorinated acids, including perfluorinated carboxylates (PFCAs), and perfluorinated sulfonates (PFASs), are environmentally persistent and have been detected in a variety of wildlife across the globe. The most commonly detected PFAS, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), has been classified as a persistent and bioaccumulative substance. Similarities in chemical structure and environmental behavior of PFOS and the PFCAs that have been detected in wildlife have generated concerns about the bioaccumulation potential of PFCAs. Differences between partitioning behavior of perfluorinated acids and persistent lipophilic compounds complicate the understanding of PFCA bioaccumulation and the subsequent classification of the bioaccumulation potential of PFCAs according to existing regulatory criteria. Based on available research on the bioaccumulation of perfluorinated acids, five key points are highlighted in this review: (1) bioconcentration and bioaccumulation of perfluorinated acids are directly related to the length of each compound's fluorinated carbon chain; (2) PFASs are more bioaccumulative than PFCAs of the same fluorinated carbon chain length; (3) PFCAs with seven fluorinated carbons or less (perfluorooctanoate (PFO) and shorter PFCAs) are not considered bioaccumulative according to the range of promulgated bioaccumulation,"B", regulatory criteria of 1000-5000 L/kg; (4) PFCAs with seven fluorinated carbons or less have low biomagnification potential in food webs, and (5) more research is necessary to fully characterize the bioaccumulation potential of PFCAs with longer fluorinated carbon chains (>7 fluorinated carbons), as PFCAs with longer fluorinated carbon chains may exhibit partitioning behavior similar to or greater than PFOS. The bioaccumulation potential of perfluorinated acids with seven fluorinated carbons or less appears to be several orders of magnitude lower than "legacy" persistent lipophilic compounds classified as bioaccumulative. Thus, although many PFCAs are environmentally persistent and can be present at detectable concentrations in wildlife, it is clear that PFCAs with seven fluorinated carbons or less (including PFO) are not bioaccumulative according to regulatory criteria.

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          Author and article information

          Environmental Science & Technology
          Environ. Sci. Technol.
          American Chemical Society (ACS)
          February 2008
          February 2008
          : 42
          : 4
          : 995-1003
          © 2008


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