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Degradation of fluorotelomer alcohols: a likely atmospheric source of perfluorinated carboxylic acids

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Human and animal tissues collected in urban and remote global locations contain persistent and bioaccumulative perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs). The source of PFCAs was previously unknown. Here we present smog chamber studies that indicate fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) can degrade in the atmosphere to yield a homologous series of PFCAs. Atmospheric degradation of FTOHs is likely to contribute to the widespread dissemination of PFCAs. After their bioaccumulation potential is accounted for, the pattern of PFCAs yielded from FTOHs could account for the distinct contamination profile of PFCAs observed in arctic animals. Furthermore, polar bear liver was shown to contain predominately linear isomers (>99%) of perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), while both branched and linear isomers were observed for perfluorooctanoic acid, strongly suggesting a sole input of PFNA from "telomer"-based products. The significance of the gas-phase peroxy radical cross reactions that produce PFCAs has not been recognized previously. Such reactions are expected to occur during the atmospheric degradation of all polyfluorinated materials, necessitating a reexamination of the environmental fate and impact of this important class of industrial chemicals.
TidsskriftEnvironmental Science & Technology (Washington)
Udgave nummer12
Sider (fra-til)3316-21
Antal sider6
StatusUdgivet - 15 jun. 2004

ID: 44565869