Atmospheric perfluoroalkyl acid occurrence and isomer profiles in Beijing, China


Wu J, Hu J. Atmospheric perfluoroalkyl acid occurrence and isomer profiles in Beijing, China. Environmental Pollution [Internet]. 2019;255:113129.


The airborne occurrence, isomer profiles, and phase distribution of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), including perfluoroalkyl carboxylates (PFCAs) and sulfonates (PFSAs), have received little scientific attention to date. Here we collected gaseous and particulate phase (PM2.5) samples in China, between June and November 2013, using alkalized annular denuders and downstream filters toavoid sampling artefacts associated with traditional air sampling. We analysed the concentrations of 18 linear PFAAs and the branched isomers of perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). Concentra- tions of total PFAAs were dominated by PFCAs, with a range of 6.6e610 pg/m3 in the gaseous phase and 2.3e290 pg/m3 in the particulate phase. Concentrations of total PFCAs were higher in summer than winter in both phases. Branched PFOA isomers accounted for 10e22% of total PFOA in the gaseous phase and 13e24% in the particulate phase, which is close to, but slightly lower than, their abundance in the commercial PFOA mixtures manufactured using the electrochemical fluorination (ECF) process. In con- tract, branched PFOS isomers accounted for 26-63% of total PFOS in the gaseous phase and 39-77% in the particulate phase, which is much higher than their abundance in commercial PFOS mixtures manufac- tured by ECF. Most PFCAs had mean particle-associated fractions (F) higher than 0.5. PFHxS had a much higher mean F (0.65) than linear PFOS (0.31). We hypothesise that PFAAs observed in Beijing air may originate from the local water bodies through processes such as aerosol generation, although trans- formation of precursors also contribute.