Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Trophodynamics of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the food web of a large Atlantic slope river

April 28, 2020

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have attracted scientific and regulatory attention due to their persistence, bioaccumulative potential, toxicity, and global distribution. We determined the accumulation and trophic transfer of 14 PFASs (5 short-chain and 9 long-chain) within the food web of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River of North Carolina and South Carolina, US. Food web components and pathways were determined by stable isotope analyses of producers, consumers, and organic matter. Analyses of water, sediment, organic matter, and aquatic biota revealed that PFASs were prevalent in all food web compartments. Biofilm, an aggregation of bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoans and a basal resource for the aquatic food web, showed high PFAS accumulation (in 10 of 14 compounds), particularly for perfluorooctanoic acid, with the greatest mean concentration of 463.73 ng/g. The food web compartment with the most detections and greatest concentrations of PFASs was aquatic insects; all 14 PFASs were detected in individual aquatic insect samples (range of Moxostoma robustum), had concentrations of 10 PFASs (range of 1.0 (range of 0.57 to 2.33); it is possible that an unmeasured PFBS precursor may be accumulating in biota and metabolizing to PFBS, leading to a higher than expected TMFs for this compound. Our findings demonstrate the prevalence of PFASs in a freshwater food web with potential implications for ecological and human health.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Trophodynamics of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the food web of a large Atlantic slope river
DOI 10.1021/acs.est.9b05007
Authors T. N. Penland, W. G. Cope, Thomas J. Kwak, M.J. Strynar, C. A. Grieshaber, R. J. Heise, F.W. Sessions
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science and Technology
Series Number
Index ID 70228436
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta

Related Content