Occurrence survey and spatial distribution of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl surfactants in groundwater, surface water, and sediments from tropical environments
The occurrence and spatial distribution of 22 selected perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in surface water (n=75), groundwater (n=80) and surficial sediment (n=15) were investigated for the first time in the tropical areas constituted by the French Overseas Territories (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte and Reunion). Descriptive statistics and correlations between PFASs were evaluated through the use of specific statistical treatments to handle left-censored data ("non-detects"). PFASs were ubiquitous in these samples and detection frequencies as high as 79% for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and 65% for perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) were reported in surface waters. ∑PFASs was in the range<LOD-77ngL(-1) (median=1.8ngL(-1)) in surface waters and <LOD-638ngL(-1) (median=0.56ngL(-1)) in groundwater. PFOS and PFOA dominated PFAS composition profiles in surface water, while shorter-chain compounds prevailed in groundwater, highlighting their higher transfer potential through infiltration processes and the possible influence of precursors. Elevated levels of 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonate (6:2 FTSA) and short-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylates were found in groundwater near several industrial facilities such as oil refineries or electricity power plants. This may be related to the existence of firefighting operations involving the use of aqueous film forming foams (AFFFs) that contain precursors to such compounds. These findings would also tend to confirm recent trends regarding the increasing proportion of C4- or C6-based perfluoroalkyl acids, their precursors, or even shorter-chain congeners at PFAS hot spots.