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Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in the Pra and Kakum River basins and associated tap water in Ghana

Essumang, David K., Eshun, Albert, Hogarh, Jonathan N., Bentum, John K., Adjei, Joseph K., Negishi, Junya, Nakamichi, Shihori, Habibullah-Al-Mamun, Md, Masunaga, Shigeki
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.579 pp. 729-735
bioaccumulation, blood serum, carbon, carboxylic acids, drinking, humans, perfluorocarbons, pollutants, risk, rivers, tap water, water potential, water treatment, watersheds, Ghana
Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are persistent environmental pollutants that have been detected in various media including human serum. Due to concerns regarding their bioaccumulation and possible negative health effects, an understanding of routes of human exposure is necessary. PFAAs are recalcitrant in many water treatment processes, making drinking water a potential source of human exposure. This study presents the first report on contamination from PFAAs in river and drinking water in Ghana. The targeted PFAAs were perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs) with C4–14 carbon chain and perfluoroalkane sulphonic acids (PFSAs) with C6, 8, 10. Five PFAA congeners – PFOA, PFOS, PFHxA, PFDA and PFPeA – were commonly detected in river and tap water. The mean concentrations of ∑PFAAs in the Kakum and Pra Rivers were 281 and 398ng/L, while tap water (supplied from the treatment of water from those rivers) contained concentrations of 197 and 200ng/L, respectively. PFOA and PFOS constituted about 99% of the ∑PFAAs. The risk quotient (RQ) attributed to drinking of tap water was estimated at 1.01 and 1.74 for PFOA and PFOS, respectively. For a country that has not produced these compounds, the RQs were unexpectedly high, raising concerns particularly about contamination from such emerging pollutants in local water sources. The study revealed limitations of local tap water treatment in getting rid of these emerging pollutants.