Atmospheric concentrations and gas/particle partitioning of neutral poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances in northern German coast


Total 58 high volume air samples were collected in Büsum, Germany, from August 2011 to October 2012 to investigate air concentrations of 12 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and their gas/particle partitioning. The total concentration (vapor plus particle phases) of the 12 PFASs (ΣPFASs) ranged from 8.6 to 155 pg/m3 (mean: 41 pg/m3) while fluorotelomer alcohols 8:2 (8:2 FTOH) dominated all samples accounting for 61.9% of ΣPFASs and the next most species were 10:2 FTOH (12.7%). Air mass back trajectory analysis showed that atmospheric PFASs in most samples were from long range atmospheric transport processes and had higher ratios of 8:2 to 6:2 FTOH compared to the data obtained from urban/industrial sources. Small portion of particle PFASs in the atmosphere was observed and the average percent to ΣPFASs was 2.0%. The particle-associated fractions of different PFASs decreased from perfluorooctane sulfonamidoethanols (FOSEs) (15.5%) to fluorotelomer acrylates (FTAs) (7.6%) to perfluorooctane sulfonamides (FOSAs) (3.1%) and FTOHs (1.8%), indicating the functional group obviously influenced their gas/particle partitioning. For neutral compounds with acid dissociation constant (pKa) > 7.0 (i.e., FTOHs, FOSEs and FOSAs), a significant log-linear relationship was observed between their gas/particle partition coefficients (KSP) and vapor pressures (pºL), suggesting the gas/particle partitioning of neutral PFASs agreed with the classical logKSP - logpºL relation. Due to the pKa values of 6:2 and 8:2 FTA below the typical environmental pH conditions, they mainly exist as ionic form in aerosols, and the corrected logKSP (neutral form) were considerably lower than those of FTOHs, FOSEs and FOSAs with similar vapor pressures. Considering the strong partitioning potential to aqueous phases for ionic PFASs at higher pH values, a need exists to develop a model taking account of the ad/absorption mechanism to the condensed phase of aerosols for ionizable PFASs (e.g., FTAs).
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