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Identification of Unsaturated and 2H Polyfluorocarboxylate Homologous Series and Their Detection in Environmental Samples and as Polymer Degradation Products
Washington, J., Tom Jenkins, AND E. Weber. Identification of Unsaturated and 2H Polyfluorocarboxylate Homologous Series and Their Detection in Environmental Samples and as Polymer Degradation Products. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 49(22):13256-13263, (2015).
Article published in the journal, Environmental Science & Technology.
A pair of homologous series of polyfluorinated degradation products have been identified, both having structures similar to perfluorocarboxylic acids but (i) having a H substitution for F on the α carbon for 2H polyfluorocarboxylic acids (2HPFCAs) and (ii) bearing a double bond between the α–β carbons for the unsaturated PFCAs (2uPFCAs). Obtaining an authentic sample containing 2uPFOA and 2HPFOA, we optimized a mass-spectrometric multiple-reaction-monitoring (MS/MS) technique and then identified uPFCA and HPFCA homologous series in sludge-applied agricultural soils and fodder grasses for cattle grazing. Analysis of samples from a degradation experiment of commercial fluorotelomer-based polymers (FTPs), the dominant product of the fluorotelomer industry, confirmed that commercial FTPs are a potential source of uPFCAs and HPFCAs to the environment. We further confirmed the identity of the uPFCAs by imposing high-energy ionization to decarboxylate the uPFCAs then focused on the fluorinated chains in the first MS quadrupole. We also employed this high-energy ionization to decarboxylate and analyze PFCAs by MS/MS (for the first time, to our knowledge). In exploratory efforts, we report the possible detection of unsaturated perfluorooctanesulfonate in environmental samples, having a conceptual double-bond structure analogous to uPFOA. Using microcosms spiked with fluorotelomer compounds, we found 2uPFOA and 2HPFOA to be generated from unsaturated 8:2 fluorotelomer acid (8:2 FTUCA) and propose β- and α-oxidation mechanisms for generation of these compounds from 8:2 FTUCA. In light of these experimental results, we also reexamined the proposed biodegradation pathways of 8:2 fluorotelomer alcohol.