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Carryover of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) from Soil to Plants

Stahl, T., Heyn, J., Thiele, H., Hüther, J., Failing, K., Georgii, S., Brunn, H.
Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology 2009 v.57 no.2 pp. 289-298
Lolium perenne, acids, aqueous solutions, blood, breast milk, corn, crops, food chain, foods, mass spectrometry, oats, perfluorocarbons, potatoes, soil, spring wheat, storage organs
Within the scope of a joint project to study soil-to-plant carryover of polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs), five cultivated plants (spring wheat, oats, potatoes, maize, and perennial ryegrass) were sown or planted in Mitscherlich pots. Six variants per species were used, each with a different concentration level of PFOA and PFOS (from 0.25 to 50 mg/kg as aqueous solution) to detect possible concentration dependence in the transfer of these two PFCs from soil to plant. PFOA and PFOS were detected by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry after appropriate sample preparation (partial drying, mincing, homogenizing, extraction). Since PFOA and PFOS presently represent the most widely studied PFCs, they are classified as “leading compounds.” The results show that concentrations of PFOA/PFOS in the plants vary greatly, depending on the concentrations applied to the soil. PFOA values were higher than PFOS values in all plants except potatoes, in which these differences could be quite substantial. From the results presented here it can be seen that uptake and storage are much more intensive in the vegetative portion of the plant than relocation in the storage organs. This is particularly evident from the the comparison of concentrations found in the grain and ear and those in the straw or rest of the plant in spring wheat, oats, and maize. Transfer from “soil to crops” provides a possible explanation for the presence of PFCs in foodstuffs and in human body fluids such as blood, plasma, serum, or breast milk. The aim of the present study was to determine whether a statistically significant, concentration-dependent carryover of PFOA and PFOS in crop plants can take place, which would provide a potential entrance point for these substances into the food chain.