AbstractThe distribution of polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) in the dissolved and particulate phase and their discharge from the river Elbe into the North Sea were studied. The PFCs quantified included C4-C8 perfluorinated sulfonates (PFSAs), 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonate (6:2 FTS), C6 and C8 perfluorinated sulfinates (PFSiAs), C4-C12 perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs), perfluoro-3,7-dimethyl-octanoic acid (3,7m2-PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonamide (FOSA), and n-ethyl perfluroctane sulfonamidoethanol (EtFOSE). PFCs were mostly distributed in the dissolved phase, where perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) dominated with 2.9―12.5 ng/L. In the suspended particulate matter FOSA and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) showed the highest concentrations (4.0 ng/L and 2.3 ng/L, respectively). The total flux of ΣPFCs from the river Elbe was estimated to be 802 kg/year for the dissolved phase and 152 kg/year for the particulate phase. This indicates that the river Elbe acts as a source for PFCs into the North Sea. However, the concentrations of perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS) and perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) in the North Sea were higher than that in the river Elbe, thus an alternative source must exist for these compounds.