Fate and redistribution of perfluoroalkyl acids through AFFF-impacted groundwater

Braunig, Jennifer, Baduel, Christine, Heffernan, Amy, Rotander, Anna, Donaldson, Eric and Mueller, Jochen F. (2017) Fate and redistribution of perfluoroalkyl acids through AFFF-impacted groundwater. Science of the Total Environment, 596-597 360-368. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.04.095

Author Braunig, Jennifer
Baduel, Christine
Heffernan, Amy
Rotander, Anna
Donaldson, Eric
Mueller, Jochen F.
Title Fate and redistribution of perfluoroalkyl acids through AFFF-impacted groundwater
Journal name Science of the Total Environment   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1879-1026
Publication date 2017-10-15
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.04.095
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 596-597
Start page 360
End page 368
Total pages 9
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier BV
Language eng
Subject 2305 Environmental Engineering
2304 Environmental Chemistry
2311 Waste Management and Disposal
2310 Pollution
Abstract Leaching of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) from a local point source, a fire-fighting training area, has led to extensive contamination of a groundwater aquifer which has spread underneath part of a nearby town, Oakey, situated in the State of Queensland, Australia. Groundwater is extracted by residents from privately owned wells for daily activities such as watering livestock and garden beds. The concentration of 10 PFAAs in environmental and biological samples (water, soil, grass, chicken egg yolk, serum of horses, cattle and sheep), as well as human serum was investigated to determine the extent of contamination in the town and discuss fate and redistribution of PFAAs. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was the dominant PFAA in all matrices investigated, followed by perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS). PFOS concentrations measured in water ranged between < 0.17–14 μg/L, concentrations of PFHxS measured between < 0.07–6 μg/L. PFAAs were detected in backyards (soil, grass), livestock and chicken egg yolk. Significant differences (p < 0.01) in PFOS and PFHxS concentrations in two groups of cattle were found, one held within the contamination plume, the other in the vicinity but outside of the contamination plume. In human serum PFOS concentrations ranged from 38 to 381 μg/L, while PFHxS ranged from 39 to 214 μg/L. Highest PFOS concentrations measured in human serum were > 30-fold higher compared to the general Australian population. Through use of contaminated groundwater secondary sources of PFAA contamination are created on private property, leading to further redistribution of contamination and creation of additional human exposure pathways.
Keyword Aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF)
Creation of secondary sources
Groundwater contamination
Human blood serum
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID FF120100546
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences (QAEHS) Publications
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