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Characterizing the movement of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in an avian aquatic–terrestrial food web

November 24, 2023

The movement of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through linked aquatic–terrestrial food webs is not well understood. Tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) in such systems may be exposed to PFAS from multiple abiotic and/or biotic compartments. We show from fatty acid signatures and carbon stable isotopes that tree swallow nestlings in southwestern Ontario fed on both terrestrial and aquatic macroinvertebrates. The PFAS profiles of air, terrestrial invertebrates, and swallows were dominated by perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Short-chain perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) were largely restricted to air, surface water, and sediment, and long-chain PFAAs were mainly found in aquatic invertebrates and tree swallows. PFOS, multiple long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids [perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), perfluorotridecanoic acid (PFTrDA)] and perfluorooctane sulfonamide precursors were estimated to bioaccumulate from air to tree swallows. PFOS bioaccumulated from air to terrestrial invertebrates, and PFOS, PFDA, and perfluorooctane sulfonamidoacetic acids (FOSAAs) bioaccumulated from water to aquatic invertebrates. PFOS showed biomagnification from both terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates to tree swallows, and PFDA and FOSAAs were also biomagnified from aquatic invertebrates to tree swallows. The movement of PFAS through aquatic–terrestrial food webs appears congener- and compartment-specific, challenging the understanding of PFAS exposure routes for multiple species involved in these food webs.

Publication Year 2023
Title Characterizing the movement of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in an avian aquatic–terrestrial food web
DOI 10.1021/acs.est.3c06944
Authors Kailee E. Hopkins, Melissa A. McKinney, Amandeep Saini, Robert J. Letcher, Natalie K. Karouna-Renier, Kim J. Fernie
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science and Technology
Index ID 70250245
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; Eastern Ecological Science Center