Occurrence of Perfluoroalkyl Surfactants in Water, Fish, and Birds from New York State

  • Ewan Sinclair
  • David T. Mayack
  • Kenneth Roblee
  • Nobuyoshi Yamashita
  • Kurunthachalam Kannan


Concentrations of perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and several other perfluoroalkyl surfactants (PASs) were determined in nine major water bodies (n = 51) of New York State (NYS). These PASs were also measured in the livers of two species of sport fish (n = 66) from 20 inland lakes in NYS. Finally, perfluorinated compounds were measured in the livers of 10 species of waterfowl (n = 87) from the Niagara River region in NYS. PFOS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorohexanesulfonate (PFHS) were ubiquitous in NYS waters. PFOA was typically found at higher concentrations than were PFOS and PFHS. Elevated concentrations of PFOS were found in surface waters of Lake Onondaga, and elevated concentrations of PFOA were found in the Hudson River. PFOS was the most abundant perfluorinated compound in all fish and bird samples. PFOS concentrations in the livers of fishes ranged from 9 to 315 ng/g wet weight. PFOS, PFOA, and PFOSA (perfluorooctanesulfonamide) concentrations in smallmouth and largemouth bass (taken together) caught in remote mountain lakes with no known point sources of PAS contamination were 14 to 207, < 1.5 to 6.1, and < 1.5 to 9.8 ng/g wet weight, respectively. PFOS concentrations in the livers of birds ranged from 11 to 882 ng/g wet weight. PFOS concentrations were 2.5-fold greater (p = 0.001) in piscivorous birds than in non-piscivorous birds. However, PFOA, PFOSA, and PFHS were not found in bird livers. Overall, average concentrations of PFOS in fish were 8850-fold greater than those in surface water. An average biomagnification factor of 8.9 was estimated for PFOS in common merganser relative to that in fish. This study highlights the significance of dietary fish in PFOS accumulation in the food chain. Furthermore, our results provide information on the distribution of PASs in natural waters, fish, and several bird species in NYS.


  1. Anderson BW, Timken RL (1971) Age and sex characteristics of common mergansers. J Wildlife Manag 35:388–393Google Scholar
  2. Bellrose FC (1980) Ducks, Geese and swans of North America, third edition. Stackpole Books, Harrrisburg, Pennsylvania, 540 ppGoogle Scholar
  3. Boulanger B, Vargo J, Schnoor JL, Hornbuckle KG (2004) Detection of perfluorooctane surfactants in Great Lakes water. Environ Sci Technol 38:4064–4070CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Canadian Wildlife Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1977) North American bird banding techniques, volume II, part 6. Environmental Management Service, Fisheries and Environment CanadaGoogle Scholar
  5. Ellis DA, Martin JW, De Silva AO, Mabury SA, Hurley MD, Anderson MPS, Wallington TJ (2004) Degradation of fluorotelomer alcohols: a likely atmospheric source of perfluorinated carboxylic acids. Environ Sci Technol 38:3316–3321Google Scholar
  6. Giesy JP, Kannan K (2001) Global distribution of perfluorooctane sulfonate and related perfluorinated compounds in wildlife. Environ Sci Technol 35:1339–1342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Giesy JP, Kannan K (2002) Perfluorochemical surfactants in the environment. Environ Sci Technol 36:147A–152AGoogle Scholar
  8. Hansen KJ, Clemen LA, Ellefson ME, Johnson HO (2001) Compound-specific, quantitative characterization of organic fluorochemicals in biological matrices. Environ Sci Technol 35:766–770Google Scholar
  9. Henry KS, Kannan K, Nagy BW, Kevern NR, Zabik MJ, Geisy JP (1998) Concentrations and hazard assessment of organochlorine contaminants and mercury in smallmouth bass from a remote lake in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 34:81–86Google Scholar
  10. Kannan K, Koistinen J, Beckman K, Evans T, Gorzelany JF, Hansen KJ, Jones PD, Helle E, Nyman M, Giesy JP (2001) Accumulation of perfluorooctane sulfonate in marine mammals. Environ Sci Technol 35:1593–1598Google Scholar
  11. Kannan K, Choi J, Iseki N, Senthilkumar K, Kim DH, Masunaga S, Giesy JP (2002a) Concentrations of perfluorinated acids in livers of birds from Japan and Korea. Chemosphere 49:225–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kannan K, Newsted J, Halbrook RS, Giesy JP (2002b) Perfluorooctanesulfonate and related fluorinated hydrocarbons in mink and river otters from the United States. Environ Sci Technol 36:2566–2571Google Scholar
  13. Kannan K, Corsolini S, Falandysz J, Fillman G, Kumar KS, Loganathan BG, Mohd MA, Olivero J, Wouwe NV, Yang JH, Aldous KM (2004) Perfluorooctanesulfonate and related fluorochemicals in human blood from several countries. Environ Sci Technol 38:4489–4495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kannan K, Tao L, Sinclair E, Pastva SD, Jude DJ, Giesy JP (2005) Perfluorinated compounds in aquatic organisms at various trophic levels in a Great Lakes food chain. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 48:559–566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kennedy GL, Butenhoff JL, Olsen GW, O’Connor JC, Seacat AM, Perkins RG, Biegel LB, Murphy SR, Farrar DG (2004) The toxicology of perfluorooctanoate. Crit Rev Toxicol 34:351–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Martin JW, Maybury SA, Solomon KR, Muir DCG (2003) Bioconcentration and tissue distribution of perfluorinated acids in rainbow trout. Environ Toxicol Chem 22:196–204Google Scholar
  17. Newell AJ, Johnson DW, Allen LK (1987) Niagara river biota contamination project: fish flesh criteria for piscivorous wildlife. Technical report 87-3. Division of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Environmental Protection, NYS DECGoogle Scholar
  18. Newsted JL, Beach S, Gallagher S, Giesy JP (2004) The acute and chronic effects of perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) to mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). SETAC 2004 posterGoogle Scholar
  19. Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection website http://www.lake.onondaga.ny.us/ol11.htm
  20. Seacat AM, Thoinford PJ, Hansen KJ, Olsen GW, Case MT, Butinhoff JL (2002) Subchronic toxicity studies on potassium perfluorooctane sulfonate in cynomolgus monkeys. Tox Sci 68:249–264Google Scholar
  21. So M, Taniyasi S, Yamashita N, Giesy J, Zheng J, Fang Z, Im S, Lam PKS (2004) Perfluorinated compounds in costal waters of Hong Kong, South China and Korea, Environ Sci Technol 38:4056–4063Google Scholar
  22. Taniyasu S, Kannan K, Horii Y, Hanari N, Yamashita N (2003) A survey of perfluorooctane sulfonate and related perfluorinated organic compounds in water, fish, birds and humans in Japan. Environ Sci Technol 37:2634–2639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tomy GT, Budakowski W, Halldorson T, Helm PA, Stern GA, Friesen K, Pepper K, Tittlemier SA, Fisk AT (2004) Fluorinated organic compounds in the eastern arctic marine food web. Environ Sci Technol 38:6475–6481Google Scholar
  24. Wang N, Szostek B, Folsom PW, Sulecki LM, Capka V, Buck RC, Berti WR, Gannon JT (2005) Aerobic biotransformation of 14C-labelled 8-2 telomer alcohol by activated sludge from a domestic sewage treatment plant. Environ Sci Technol 39:531–538Google Scholar
  25. Yamashita N, Kannan K, Taniyasu S, Horii Y, Okazawa T, Petrick G, Gamo T (2004) Analysis of perfluorinated acids at parts-per- quadrillion levels in seawater using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Environ Sci Technol 38:5522–5528CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ewan Sinclair
    • 1
  • David T. Mayack
    • 2
  • Kenneth Roblee
    • 3
  • Nobuyoshi Yamashita
    • 4
  • Kurunthachalam Kannan
    • 1
  1. 1.Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, and Department of Environmental Health SciencesState University of New York at AlbanyAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.New York State Department of Environmental ConservationGloversvilleUSA
  3. 3.New York State Department of Environmental ConservationBuffaloUSA
  4. 4.National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)TsukubaJapan

Personalised recommendations