Science Inventory

Legacy and emerging poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in seabirds from Atlantic offshore and coastal environments

Citation:

Robuck, A., M. Cantwell, C. Gardner, AND R. Lohmann. Legacy and emerging poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in seabirds from Atlantic offshore and coastal environments. Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry North Amerca (SETAC-NA) 39th Annual Meeting, Sacramento, CA, November 04 - 09, 2018.

Impact/Purpose:

Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are chemicals used in a lot of commercial and industrial products. Many PFAS compounds don’t break down when they get into coastal and ocean areas and have been found around the world in drinking water, surface water, and animals, including seabirds. In this study, PFASs were measured in young seabirds from the Atlantic seaboard of the United States. Coastal seabirds generally contained higher concentrations of PFASs compared to offshore birds. The type of PFAS compounds were also different between the offshore and coastal birds. The differences in concentration and types of chemicals present between groups could not be explained by feeding, suggesting the chemicals come from different sources. Observed concentrations suggest abundant PFASs in birds from both developed coastal systems and remote ocean systems, are coming from sources that have not been identified. It is important to identify these sources so that we can limit future releases.

Description:

Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have been produced since the 1940s for use in commercial and industrial applications, including water repellant coatings, surfactants, and vinyl polymerization. PFASs demonstrate remarkable environmental persistence and bioaccumulative capacity, and have been found globally in drinking water, surface water, and biota, including birds from diverse habitats. Seabirds are particularly useful as indicators of marine ecosystem health and contamination, as their upper trophic level position allows them to assimilate resources and related biological, physical, and chemical conditions across multiple ecosystems and temporal scales. Here, PFASs were measured in juvenile birds from the Atlantic seaboard. Bird liver samples were obtained from deceased or bycatch juvenile or sub-adult herring gulls, great shearwaters, terns, and pelicans from Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, Massachusetts Bay off the coast of Massachusetts, and the Cape Fear River Estuary in southeastern North Carolina. Liver samples from each bird were freeze-dried and extracted using sonication, centrifugation and freezing, and purified using reversed phase solid phase extraction. Extracts were analyzed for 24 legacy and emerging ionic and neutral PFASs using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry in electrospray ionization (ESI-) mode. Coastal birds generally contained higher concentrations 24PFASs compared to offshore birds, with the coastal group evidencing mean concentrations of 24PFASs of 999.8  627 ng/g dry weight, while offshore birds displayed 24PFASs of 598.7 437.4 ng/g dry weight liver. Perfluorinated carboxylic acids dominated the offshore group, while coastal birds contained a higher proportion of perfluoroalkane sulfonates. Concentration differences and variability in compound dominance between groups could not be attributed to trophic level as approximated by nitrogen stable isotopes, suggesting dissimilar sources may variably contribute to 24PFASs fingerprints observed between groups. Observed concentrations suggest abundant PFASs in birds from both developed coastal systems and remote pelagic systems, contributed by as-of-yet uncertain pathways.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/SLIDE)
Product Published Date: 11/04/2018
Record Last Revised: 07/09/2019
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 345700