Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in plasma of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus)

February 19, 2019

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are ubiquitous, synthetic anthropogenic chemicals known to infiltrate and persist in biological systems as a result of their stability and bioaccumulation potential. This study investigated 15 PFAS, including short-chain carboxylic and sulfonic acids, and their presence in a threatened herbivore, the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). Seven of the 15 PFAS examined were detected in manatee plasma. Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) (ranging from 0.13 to 166 ng/g ww) and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) (ranging from 0.038 to 3.52 ng/g ww) were detected in every manatee plasma sample examined (n = 69), with differing medians across sampling sites in Florida, Crystal River (n = 39), Brevard County (n = 18), Everglades National Park (n = 8), and four samples (n = 4) from Puerto Rico. With an herbivorous diet and long life-span, the manatee provides a new perspective to monitoring PFAS contamination.