Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) continue to receive significant attention, with particular concern for PFASs such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), which was a constituent of aqueous film-forming foam used widely as a fire suppressant for aircraft since the 1970s. We were interested in the potential for risk to ecological receptors inhabiting Cooper Bayou, which is adjacent to 2 former fire-training areas at Barksdale Air Force Base (LA, USA). Previous research showed higher PFOS concentrations in surface water and biota from Cooper Bayou compared to reference sites. To estimate risk, we compared surface water concentrations from multiple sites within Cooper Bayou with several PFOS chronic toxicity benchmarks for freshwater aquatic organisms (∼0.4–5.1 μg PFOS/L) and showed probability of exceedances from 0.04 to 0.5, suggesting a potential for adverse effects in the most contaminated habitats. A tissue-residue assessment similarly showed some exceedance of benchmarks but with a lower probability (maximum = 0.17). Both fire-training areas have been inactive for more than a decade, so exposures (and, thus, risks) are expected to decline. Several uncertainties limit confidence in our risk estimates including highly dynamic surface water concentrations and limited chronic toxicity data for relevant species. Also, we have little data concerning organisms higher in the food chain which may receive higher lifetime exposures given the potential for PFOS to bioaccumulate and the longevity of many of these organisms. Overall, the present study suggests that PFOS can occur at concentrations that may cause adverse effects to ecological receptors, although additional, focused research is needed to reduce uncertainties. Environ Toxicol Chem 2018;37:2198–2209.
- Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
- Species sensitivity distribution
- Tissue-residue risk assessment