Date: 13 Aug 2010

Isomer Profiling of Perfluorinated Substances as a Tool for Source Tracking: A Review of Early Findings and Future Applications

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The ubiquitous detection of perfluorinated acids (PFAs) and their precursors (PFA precursors) in the global environment has led to concern over their effects in humans and wildlife. This is exacerbated by evidence of developmental toxicity (Lau et al. 2007; Apelberg et al. 2007; Fei et al. 2008), along with persistence, chain length-dependent bioaccumulation potential (Houde et al. 2006), and long-range transport potential (Wallington et al. 2006; Wania 2007; Armitage et al. 2006, 2009a, b). In the over half-century of global perfluorochemical manufacturing, the two most commonly used synthetic methods have produced products with very different isomeric purities. Despite the fact that both branched and linear PFA and PFA-precursor isomers exist in the environment, quantitative analysis of these chemicals is, for the most part, still conducted by eluting all isomers together and integrating them as a single peak. This practice has continued despite the fact that emerging literature suggests that more accurate and informative data can be generated by isomer-specific analysis.