Improved analytical methods for perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) and their precursors – a focus on human dietary exposure

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Applied Environmental Science (ITM), Stockholm University

Abstract: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a large group of global environmental contaminants. They can be divided into two sub-groups, 1) perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) and 2) so called precursors, i.e. compounds that can potentially be transformed to form PFAAs. PFAAs are today ubiquitous in wildlife and humans. Food and drinking water are assumed to be the dominant human exposure pathways for PFAAs.The main aim of this doctoral thesis was to develop highly sensitive and fully validated analytical methods for the determination of a range of PFAAs and selected precursors in dietary samples. The methods were based on liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Samples were extracted by solvent extraction followed by a cleanup step employing solid phase extraction. The cleanup step could at the same time be used as a fractionation of ionic PFAAs and neutral precursors.Paper I and II describe the development of methods for simultaneous analysis of three groups of PFAAs including perfluoroalkyl phosphonic acids (PFPAs) in drinking water and food. Methyl piperidine was used as ion pairing agent, leading to highly sensitive analysis of PFPAs. A first screening of tap water samples and different food items revealed that human dietary exposure to PFPAs in Europe is currently not of concern.A novel method for simultaneous analysis of perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs) and polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters (PAPs) in food and packaging materials is described in paper III. Targeted food samples and their packaging were analyzed. The results showed that PAPs may contribute to human exposure to PFCAs. In paper IV temporal trends (1991-2011) of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and its precursors in herring were investigated. Rapidly decreasing trends were found for precursors, whereas PFOS did not show a significant change over time. Precursors in fish may have played an important role for human exposure to PFOS in the 1990s but are probably negligible today.

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