Anthropogenic drivers of variation in concentrations of perfluoroalkyl substances in otters (Lutra lutra) from England and Wales

O’Rourke, Emily; Hynes, Juliet; Losada, Sara; Barber, Jonathan L.; Pereira, M. Glória; Kean, Eleanor F.; Hailer, Frank; Chadwick, Elizabeth A.. 2022 Anthropogenic drivers of variation in concentrations of perfluoroalkyl substances in otters (Lutra lutra) from England and Wales. Environmental Science & Technology, 56 (3). 1675-1687.

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Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are ubiquitous environmental contaminants that have been linked to adverse health effects in wildlife and humans. Here, we report the presence of PFASs in Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) in England and Wales and their association with anthropogenic sources. The following 15 compounds were analyzed: 10 perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs), 4 perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids (PFSAs), and perfluorooctane sulfonamide, in livers of 50 otters which died between 2007 and 2009. PFASs were detected in all otters analyzed, with 12/15 compounds detected in ≥80% of otters. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) accounted for 75% of the ΣPFAS profile, with a maximum concentration of 6800 μg/kg wet weight (ww). Long-chain (≥C8) PFCAs accounted for 99.9% of the ΣPFCA profile, with perfluorodecanoic acid and perfluorononanoic acid having the highest maxima (369 μg/kg ww and 170 μg/kg ww, respectively). Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) concentrations were negatively associated with the distance from a factory that used PFOA in polytetrafluoroethylene manufacture. Most PFAS concentrations in otters were positively associated with load entering wastewater treatment works (WWTW) and with arable land, suggesting that WWTW effluent and sewage sludge-amended soils are significant pathways of PFASs into freshwaters. Our results reveal the widespread pollution of British freshwaters with PFASs and demonstrate the utility of otters as effective sentinels for spatial variation in PFAS concentrations.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pollution (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0013-936X
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs), perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids (PFSAs), Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), sentinel species, bioaccumulation, wastewater effluent, sewage sludge
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 22 Mar 2022 16:13 +0 (UTC)

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