Modeling the global fate and transport of perfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS)
Sammanfattning: Perfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) are persistent contaminants that are widely distributed in the global environment. Despite the fact that these chemicals have been manufactured and used for over 50 years, there has been little scientific and regulatory interest until very recently. An important research priority over the past decade has been to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms and pathways explaining the presence of these compounds in remote regions. One explanation is related to the use and release of volatile precursor compounds which undergo atmospheric transport and are also susceptible to degradation to PFAS through gas phase reactions with radical species. The main purpose of this doctoral thesis was to investigate an alternative explanation, namely the long-range transport (LRT) of PFAS themselves, which have been released into the environment in substantial quantities during manufacturing and product use. Papers I – III explore the LRT potential of perfluorocarboxylic acids and perfluorocarboxylates and demonstrate that both oceanic and atmospheric transport are efficient pathways of dispersion from source to remote regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Oceanic transport of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was shown to be an important process in Paper IV as well. The role of precursor transport and degradation to PFOS was also examined in this paper. The most interesting aspect of the fate and transport of PFOS precursors is the rapid response in ambient concentrations exhibited by these compounds in the model simulations following production phase-out. Since precursor compounds are known to degrade to PFOS in vivo, the modeling results demonstrate that this exposure pathway is a plausible explanation for the declining trends in PFOS concentrations reported for marine mammals in some remote environments.
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