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High levels of perfluoroalkyl acids in sport fish species downstream of a firefighting training facility at Hamilton International Airport, Ontario, Canada

Gewurtz, Sarah B., Bhavsar, Satyendra P., Petro, Steve, Mahon, Chris G., Zhao, Xiaoming, Morse, Dave, Reiner, Eric J., Tittlemier, Sheryl A., Braekevelt, Eric, Drouillard, Ken
Environment international 2014 v.67 pp. 1-11
Amphipoda, Chelydridae, airports, fire fighting, fish, foams, game fish, lakes, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, surface water, Ontario
A recent study reported elevated concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and other perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in surface water, snapping turtles, and amphipods in Lake Niapenco, downstream of Hamilton International Airport, Ontario, Canada. Here, our goals were to 1) determine the extent of PFAA contamination in sport fish species collected downstream of the airport, 2) explore if the airport could be a potential source, and 3) compare fish PFOS concentrations to consumption advisory benchmarks. The PFOS levels in several sport fish collected from the three locations closest to the airport (<40km) were among the highest previously published in the peer-reviewed literature and also tended to exceed consumption benchmarks. The only other fish that had comparable concentrations were collected in a region affected by inputs from a major fluorinated chemical production facility. In contrast, PFOS concentrations in the two most downstream locations (>70km) were comparable to or below the average concentrations in fish as observed in the literature and were generally below the benchmarks. With regards to perfluorocarboxylates (PFCAs), there was no significant decrease in concentrations in fish with distance from the airport and levels were comparable to or below the average concentrations observed in the literature, suggesting that the airport is not a significant source of PFCAs in these fish species. PFOS-based aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) was used at a firefighting training facility at the airport in the 1980s to mid-1990s. Taken together, our results provide evidence that the historical use of AFFF at the airport has resulted in fish PFOS concentrations that exceed the 95th percentile concentration of values reported in the literature to date.