Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 10, pp 9311–9320 | Cite as

Risk exposure assessment of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in drinking water and atmosphere in central eastern China

  • Zhibo Lu
  • Rong Lu
  • Hongyuan Zheng
  • Jing Yan
  • Luning Song
  • Juan Wang
  • Haizhen Yang
  • Minghong Cai
Research Article


We examined per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in air from eight cities, and in water from six drinking-water treatment plants (DWTPs), in central eastern China. We analyzed raw and treated water samples from the DWTPs for 17 ionic PFASs with high-performance liquid chromatography/negative-electrospray-ionization tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC/(–)ESI-MS/MS), and analyzed the gas and particle phases of atmospheric samples for 12 neutral PFASs by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA) were the dominant compounds in drinking water, and fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) dominated in atmospheric samples. Of all the compounds in the treated water samples, the concentration of PFOA, at 51.0 ng L−1, was the highest. Conventional treatments such as coagulation (COA), flocculation (FOC), sedimentation (SED), and sand filtration (SAF) did not remove PFASs. Advanced treatments, however, including ultrafiltration (UF) and activated carbon (AC), removed the majority of PFASs except for shorter-chain PFASs such as perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) and perfluoropentanoic acid (PFPA). We also investigated human exposure to PFASs via drinking water and the atmosphere and found that the mean daily intake of PFASs was 0.43 ng kg−1 day−1.


PFASs Atmosphere DWTPs Central eastern China Advanced treatments Risk assessment 

Supplementary material

11356_2017_950_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.2 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1195 kb)


  1. Ahrens L, Plassmann M, Xie Z, Ebinghaus R (2009) Determination of polyfluoroalkyl compounds in water and suspended particulate matter in the river Elbe and the North Sea, Germany. Front Environ Sci Eng China 3(2):152–170.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11783-009-0021-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahrens L, Taniyasu S, Yeung LWY, Yamashita N, Lam PKS, Ebinghaus R (2010) Distribution of polyfluoroalkyl compounds in water, suspended particulate matter and sediment from Tokyo Bay, Japan. Chemosphere 79(3):266–272.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2010.01.045 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Appleman TD, Higgins CP, Quinones O, Vanderford BJ, Kolstad C, Zeigler-Holady JC, Dickenson ERV (2014) Treatment of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances in US full-scale water treatment systems. Water Res 51:246–255.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2013.10.067 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bao J, Liu W, Liu L, Jin YH, Dai JY, Ran XR, Zhang ZX, Tsuda S (2011) Perfluorinated compounds in the environment and the blood of residents living near fluorochemical plants in Fuxin, China. Environ Sci Technol 45(19):8075–8080.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es102610x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barber JL, Berger U, Chaemfa C, Huber S, Jahnke A, Temme C, Jones KC (2007) Analysis of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances in air samples from Northwest Europe. J Environ Monit 9(6):530–541.  https://doi.org/10.1039/b701417a CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Benskin, J. P.; Ikonomou, M. G.; Gobas, F. A. P. C.; Begley, T. H.; Woudneh, M. B.; Cosgrove, J. R ( 2013) Biodegradation of N-ethyl perfluorooctane sulfonamido ethanol (EtFOSE) and EtFOSE-based phosphate diester (SAmPAP diester) in marine sediments. Environ. Sci. Technol 47: 1381–1389, 3, DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1021/es304336r
  7. Beškoski VP, Takemine S, Nakano T, Beškoski LS, Gojgić-Cvijović G, Ilić M, Miletić S, Vrvić MM (2013) Perfluorinated compounds in sediment samples from the wastewater canal of Pančevo (Serbia) industrial area. Chemosphere 91(10):1408–1415.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2012.12.079 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beškoski VP, Yamamoto K, Yamamoto A, Okamura H, Hayashi M, Nakano T, Inui H (2017) Distribution of perfluoroalkyl compounds in Osaka Bay and coastal waters of Western Japan. Chemosphere 170:260–265.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2016.12.028 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boiteux V, Dauchy X, Rosin C, Munoz J-F (2012) National screening study on 10 perfluorinated compounds in raw and treated tap water in France. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicology 63:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Boiteux V, Dauchy X, Bach C, Colin A, Hemard J, Sagres V, Munoz JF (2017) Concentrations and patterns of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances in a river and three drinking water treatment plants near and far from a major production source. Sci Total Environ 583:393–400.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.01.079 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cai, M.H.; Zhao, Z.; Yang, H.Z.; Yin, Z.G.; Hong, Q.Q.; Sturm, R.; Ebinghaus, R.; Ahrens, L.; Cai, M.G.; He, J.F; Xie, Z.Y (2012b) Spatial distribution of per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds in coastal waters from the east to South China Sea. Environ Pollut 161: 162–169, DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2011.09.045
  12. Cai, M.H.; Zhao, Z.; Yin, Z.G.; Ahrens, L.; Huang, P.; Cai, M.G.; Yang, H.Z; He, J.F.; Sturm, R.; Ebinghaus, R.; Xie, Z.Y. (2011) Occurrence of perfluoroalkyl compounds in surface waters from the North Pacific to the Arctic Ocean. Environ Scie Technol 46: 661–668Google Scholar
  13. Cai MH, Xie Z, Möller A, Yin Z, Huang P, Cai M, Yang H, Sturm R, He J, Ebinghaus R (2012a) Polyfluorinated compounds in the atmosphere along a cruise pathway from the Japan Sea to the Arctic Ocean. Chemosphere 87(9):989–997.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2011.11.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De Solla SR, De Silva AO, Letcher RJ (2012) Highly elevated levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate and other perfluorinated acids found in biota and surface water downstream of an international airport, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Environ Int 39(1):19–26.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2011.09.011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dreyer A, Ebinghaus R (2009) Polyfluorinated compounds in ambient air from ship- and land-based measurements in northern Germany. Atmos Environ 43:1527–1535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eschauzier C, Beerendonk E, Scholte-Veenendaal P, De Voogt P (2012) Impact of treatment processes on the removal of perfluoroalkyl acids from the drinking water production chain. Environ. Sci. Technol 46(3):1708–1715.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es201662b CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Flores, C.; Ventura, F.; Martin-Alonso, J; Caixach, J. (2013) Occurrence of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) in NE Spanish surface waters and their removal in a drinking water treatment plant that combines conventional and advanced treatments in parallel lines. Sci. Total Environ 461: 618–626Google Scholar
  18. Fromme H, Tittlemier SA, Volkel W, Wilhelm M, Twardella D (2009) Perfluorinated compounds - exposure assessment for the general population in western countries. Int J Hyg Envir Heal 212(3):239–270.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijheh.2008.04.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Geiger SD, Xiao J, Ducatman A, Frisbee S, Innes K, Shankar A (2014) The association between PFOA, PFOS and serum lipid levels in adolescents. Chemosphere 98:78–83.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2013.10.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Genualdi S, Lee SC, Shoeib M, Gawor A, Ahrens L, Harner T (2010) Global pilot study of legacy and emerging persistent organic pollutants using sorbent-impregnated polyurethane foam disk passive air samplers. Environ. Sci. Technol 44(14):5534–5539.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es1009696 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gorrochategui, E.; Perez-Albaladejo, E.; Casas, J.; Lacorte, S; Porte, C. (2014) Perfluorinated chemicals: differential toxicity, inhibition of aromatase activity and alteration of cellular lipids in human placental cells. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 277: 124–130, 2, DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.taap.2014.03.012
  22. Higgins CP, Luthy RG (2006) Sorption of perfluorinated surfactants on sediments. Environ. Sci. Technol 40(23):7251–7256.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es061000n CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Holzer J, Midasch O, Rauchfuss K, Kraft M, Reupert R, Angerer J, Kleeschulte P, Marschall N, Wilhelm M (2008) Biomonitoring of perfluorinated compounds in children and adults exposed to perfluorooctanoate-contaminated drinking water. Environ. Health Persp 116(5):651–657.  https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.11064 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kim SK, Kho YL, Shoeib M, Kim KS, Kim KR, Park JE, Shin YS (2011) Occurrence of perfluorooctanoate and perfluorooctanesulfonate in the Korean water system: implication to water intake exposure. Environ Pollut 159(5):1167–1173.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2011.02.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kim, S.K.; Shoeib, M.; Kim, K.S; Park, J.E. (2012) Indoor and outdoor poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in Korea determined by passive air sampler. Environ Pollut 162:144–150, DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2011.10.037
  26. Knox SS, Jackson T, Javins B, Frisbee SJ, Shankar A, Ducatman AM (2011) Implications of early menopause in women exposed to perfluorocarbons. J Clin Endocr Metab 96(6):1747–1753.  https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2010-2401 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kunacheva C, Fujii S, Tanaka S, Kitpati Boontanon S, Poothong S, Wongwatthana T, Shivakoti BR (2010) Perfluorinated compounds contamination in tap water and bottled water in Bangkok, Thailand. J. Water Supply: Res. Technol.-Aqua 59:345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kwok KY, Taniyasu S, Yeung LWY, Murphy MB, Lam PKS, Horii Y, Kannan K, Petrick G, Sinha RK, Yamashita N (2010) Flux of perfluorinated chemicals through wet deposition in Japan, the United States, and several other countries. Environ. Sci. Technol 44(18):7043–7049.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es101170c CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Li J, Del Vento S, Schuster J, Zhang G, Chakraborty P, Kobara Y, Jones KC (2011) Perfluorinated compounds in the Asian atmosphere. Environ. Sci. Technol 45(17):7241–7248.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es201739t CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Llorca M, Farre M, Pico Y, Muller J, Knepper TP, Barcelo D (2012) Analysis of perfluoroalkyl substances in waters from Germany and Spain. Sci. Total Environ 431:139–150.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.05.011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lundgren S. (2014) Evaluation of the efficiency of treatment techniques in removing perfluoroalkyl substances from waterGoogle Scholar
  32. Mak YL, Taniyasu S, Yeung LWY, Lu G, Jin L, Yang Y, Lam PKS, Kannan K, Yamashita N (2009) Perfluorinated compounds in tap water from China and several other countries. Environ Sci Technol 43(13):4824–4829.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es900637a CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Melzer D, Rice N, Depledge MH, Henley WE, Galloway TS (2010) Association between serum perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and thyroid disease in the US national health and nutrition examination survey. Environ. Health Persp 118(5):686–692.  https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.0901584 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Muller CE, Gerecke AC, Bogdal C, Wang ZY, Scheringer M, Hungerbuhler K (2012) Atmospheric fate of poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs): I. Day-night patterns of air concentrations in summer in Zurich, Switzerland. Environ. Pollut 169:196–203.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2012.04.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Naile JE, Khim JS, Wang T, Chen C, Luo W, Kwon B-O, Park J, Koh C-H, Jones PD, Lu Y, Giesy J (2010) P.Perfluorinated compounds in water, sediment, soil and biota from estuarine and coastal areas of Korea. Environ. Pollut 158(5):1237–1244.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2010.01.023 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Papadopoulou E, Sabaredzovic A, Namork E, Nygaard UC, Granum B, Haug LS (2016) Exposure of Norwegian toddlers to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): the association with breastfeeding and maternal PFAS concentrations. Environ Int 94:687–694.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2016.07.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Piekarz AM, Primbs T, Field JA, Barofsky DF, Simonich S (2007) Semivolatile fluorinated organic compounds in Asian and western US air masses. Environ. Sci. Technol 41(24):8248–8255.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es0713678 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Post GB, Louis JB, Lippincott RL, Procopio NA (2013) Occurrence of perfluorinated compounds in raw water from New Jersey public drinking water systems. Environ. Sci. Technol 47(23):13266–13275.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es402884x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Reagen WK, Ellefson ME, Kannan K, Giesy JP (2008) Comparison of extraction and quantification methods of perfluorinated compounds in human plasma, serum, and whole blood. Anal Chim Acta 628(2):214–221.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aca.2008.09.029 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rhoads, K. R.; Janssen, E. M.-L.; Luthy, R. G.; Criddle, C. S (2008) Aerobic biotransformation and fate of N-ethyl perfluorooctane sulfonamidoethanol (N-EtFOSE) in activated sludge. Environ. Sci. Technol 42:2873–2878, 8, DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1021/es702866c
  41. Shivakoti BR, Fujii S, Nozoe M, Tanaka S, Kunacheva C (2010) Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in water purification plants (WPPs) with advanced treatment processes. Water Sci. Technol.: Water Supply 10(1):87–95.  https://doi.org/10.2166/ws.2010.707 Google Scholar
  42. Shoeib M, Vlahos P, Harner T, Peters A, Graustein M, Narayan J (2010) Survey of polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in the atmosphere over the northeast Atlantic Ocean. Atmos Environ 44(24):2887–2893.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.04.056 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. So MK, Miyake Y, Yeung WY, Ho YM, Taniyasu S, Rostkowski P, Yamashita N, Zhou BS, Shi XJ, Wang JX, Giesy JP, Yu H, Lam PKS (2007) Perfluorinated compounds in the Pearl River and Yangtze river of China. Chemosphere 68(11):2085–2095.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2007.02.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. So MK, Taniyasu S, Yamashita N, Giesy JP, Zheng J, Fang Z, Im SH, Lam PKS (2004) Perfluorinated compounds in coastal waters of Hong Kong, South China, and Korea. Environ. Sci. Technol 38(15):4056–4063.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es049441z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sun HW, Li FS, Zhang T, Zhang XZ, He N, Song Q, Zhao LJ, Sun LN, Sun TH (2011) Perfluorinated compounds in surface waters and WWTPs in Shenyang, China: mass flows and source analysis. Water Res 45(15):4483–4490.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2011.05.036 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sun HW, Zhang XZ, Wang L, Zhang T, Li FS, He N, Alder A (2012) Perfluoroalkyl compounds in municipal WWTPs in Tianjin, China-concentrations, distribution and mass flow. Environ Sci Pollut Res 19(5):1405–1415.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-011-0727-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Takagi S, Adachi F, Miyano K, Koizumi Y, Tanaka H, Mimura M, Watanabe I, Tanabe S, Kannan K (2008) Perfluorooctanesulfonate and perfluorooctanoate in raw and treated tap water from Osaka, Japan. Chemosphere 72(10):1409–1412.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.05.034 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Takagi S, Adachi F, Miyano K, Koizumi Y, Tanaka H, Watanabe I, Tanabe S, Kannan K (2011) Fate of perfluorooctanesulfonate and perfluorooctanoate in drinking water treatment processes. Water Res 45(13):3925–3932.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2011.04.052 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Takemine S, Matsumura C, Yamamoto K, Suzuki M, Tsurukawa M, Imaishi H, Nakano T, Kondo A (2014) Discharge of perfluorinated compounds from rivers and their influence on the coastal seas of Hyogo prefecture. Japan Environ Pollut 184:397–404.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2013.09.016 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Taniyasu S, Yamashita N, Moon H-B, Kwok KY, Lam PKS, Horii Y, Petrick G, Kannan K (2013) Does wet precipitation represent local and regional atmospheric transportation by perfluorinated alkyl substances? Environ. Int 55:25–32Google Scholar
  51. Thompson J, Eaglesham G, Reungoat J, Poussade Y, Bartkow M, Lawrence M, Mueller JF (2011) Removal of PFOS, PFOA and other perfluoroalkyl acids at water reclamation plants in south East Queensland Australia. Chemosphere 82(1):9–17.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2010.10.040 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. USEPA, 2011a. Exposure factors handbook: 2011 edition. Washington, DC. Federal Register Notice, Oct 3Google Scholar
  53. USEPA (2011b) Revisions to the unregulated contaminants monitoring regulations (UCMR3) for public water systems. Fed Regist 76:1113–11737Google Scholar
  54. USEPA, 2013. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and fluorinated telomers. Available from http://www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa/index.htmlGoogle Scholar
  55. USEPA, 2016. Fact sheet PFOA and PFOS drinking water health advisoriesGoogle Scholar
  56. Vierke L, Ahrens L, Shoeib M, Palm W-U, Webster EM, Ellis DA, Ebinghaus R, Harner T (2013) In situ air–water and particle–water partitioning of perfluorocarboxylic acids, perfluorosulfonic acids and perfluorooctyl sulfonamide at a wastewater treatment plant. Chemosphere 92(8):941–948.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2013.02.067 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. www.tianqi.com. (2011) The weather trend and statistical data of weather conditions in June, 2011. Available from: http://lishi.tianqi.com/shanghai/201106.html
  58. Xiao F, Simcik MF, Gulliver JS (2013) Mehanisms for removal of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) from drinking water by conventional and enhanced coagulation. Water Res 47(1):49–56.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2012.09.024 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yeung LWY, Miyake Y, Taniyasu S, Wang Y, Yu HX, So MK, Jiang GB, Wu YN, Li JG, Giesy JP, Yamashita N, Lam PKS (2008) Perfluorinated compounds and total and extractable organic fluorine in human blood samples from China. Environ. Sci. Technol 42(21):8140–8145.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es800631n CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zhang T, Sun HW, Wu Q, Zhang XZ, Yun SH, Kannan K (2010a) Perfluorochemicals in meat, eggs and indoor dust in China: assessment of sources and pathways of human exposure to perfluorochemicals. Environ. Sci. Technol 44(9):3572–3579.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es1000159 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zhang T, Sun HW, Lin Y, Wang L, Zhang XZ, Liu Y, Geng X, Zhao LJ, Li FS, Kannan K (2011) Perfluorinated compounds in human blood, water, edible freshwater fish, and seafood in China: daily intake and regional differences in human exposures. J. Agric. Food Chem 59(20):11168–11176.  https://doi.org/10.1021/jf2007216 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zhang T, Wu Q, Sun HW, Zhang XZ, Yun SH, Kannan K (2010b) Perfluorinated compounds in whole blood samples from infants, children, and adults in China. Environ. Sci. Technol 44(11):4341–4347.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es1002132 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Zhang Y, Meng W, Guo CS, Xu J, Yu T, Fan WH, Li L (2012) Determination and partitioning behavior of perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids and perfluorooctanesulfonate in water and sediment from Dianchi Lake, China. Chemosphere 88(11):1292–1299.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2012.03.103 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Zushi Y, Ye F, Motegi M, Nojiri K, Hosono S, Suzuki T, Kosugi Y, Yaguchi K, Masunaga S (2011) Spatially detailed survey on pollution by multiple perfluorinated compounds in the Tokyo Bay basin of Japan. Environ. Sci. Technol 45(7):2887–2893.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es103917r CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017
corrected publication March/2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhibo Lu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rong Lu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hongyuan Zheng
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jing Yan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Luning Song
    • 1
    • 2
  • Juan Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Haizhen Yang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Minghong Cai
    • 3
  1. 1.College of Environmental Science and EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory on Pollution Control and Resource ReuseTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.SOA Key Laboratory for Polar SciencePolar Research Institute of ChinaShanghaiChina

Personalised recommendations