Acid dissociation versus molecular association of perfluoroalkyl oxoacids: Environmental implications
Authors: Cheng, Jie; Psillakis, E; Hoffmann, MR; Colussi, AJ
Journal of Physical Chemistry A 113:8152-8156. [Letter]
HERO ID: 2551847
Perfluorooctanoate (PFO) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) surfactant anions, once released, may rapidly . . .
Perfluorooctanoate (PFO) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) surfactant anions, once released, may rapidly reach remote regions. This phenomenon is puzzling because the water-bound anions of strong F-alkyl acids should be largely transported by slow oceanic currents. Herein, we investigate whether these hydrophobic F-alkyl oxoanions would behave anomalously under environmental conditions, as suggested elsewhere. Negative electrospray ionization mass spectra of micromolar aqueous PFO or PFOS solutions from pH 1.0 to 6.0 show (1) m/z = 499 (PFOS) signals that are independent of pH and (2) m/z = 413 (PFO) and 369 (PFO - CO(2)) signals, plus m/z = 213 (C(3)F(7)CO(2)(-)) and 169 (C(3)F(7)(-)) signals at higher collision energies, and, below pH similar to 4, m/z = 827 signals from a remarkably stable (PFO)(2)H(-) cluster that increase with decreasing pH. Since the SUM of the m/z = 369, 413, and 827 signal intensities is independent of pH, that is, effectively encompasses all major species, we infer that pK(a)(PFOSA) < 1.0 and pK(a)(PFOA) < 1.0. We also derive K(2) <= 4 x 10(7) M(-2) for the clustering equilibrium 2PFO + H(+) (sic) (PFO)(2)H. Thus, although (PFO)2H is held together by an exceptionally strong homonuclear covalent hydrogen bond, neither PFOS nor PFO will associate or protonate significantly at environmentally relevant subnanomolar concentrations above pH similar to 1.