Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2017Peer reviewed

Spatial distribution and source tracing of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in surface water in Northern Europe

Nguyen, Minh A.; Wiberg, Karin; Ribeli, Erik; Josefsson, Sarah; Futter, Martyn; Gustavsson, Jakob; Ahrens, Lutz


The impact of point and diffuse sources for 26 per- and polyfluoroallcyl substances (PFASs) in northern Europe were investigated by studying Swedish rivers (n = 40) and recipient seawater (Baltic Sea and Kattegat; n = 18). Different composition profiles were observed in the rivers, with ten rivers having a remarkably high fraction of perfluoroalkane sulfonic acids (PFSAs; 65% of the Sigma PFASs) as compared to other rivers (19%) suggesting major impact of one or several source types dominated by PFSAs. Population density and low latitude (south) were strongly correlated to the widely used perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfiuorooctanoic acid (PFOA) as well as to perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS). Significant relationships between several PFCAs and PFSAs (i.e. perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA), perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA), PFOA, perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), and PFHxS) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) were detected (p < 0.05), indicating chemical binding and co -transport with DOC in fresh water and seawater. Partial least squares regression analysis showed that perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs) were related to latitude according to their perfluorocarbon chain length (C-3, C-7, C-8, C-9, C-10 and Cr-11), with longer chains associated with higher latitudes. This suggests the presence of mechanisms promoting higher prevalence of longer chained PFCAs in the north, e.g. precursor degradation, and/or aerosol associated stabilization of PFCAs and their precursors. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs); Source tracing; Long-range atmospheric transport; Surface water

Published in

Environmental Pollution
2017, Volume: 220, number: Part B, pages: 1438-1446