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Significance thresholds for the assessment of contaminated groundwater: perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals

von der Trenck, Karl Theo, Konietzka, Rainer, Biegel-Engler, Annegret, Brodsky, Jan, Hädicke, Andrea, Quadflieg, Arnold, Stockerl, Rudolf, Stahl, Thorsten
Environmental sciences Europe 2018 v.30 no.1 pp. 19
biocenosis, drinking water, ecotoxicology, groundwater, groundwater contamination, human health, humans, perfluorocarbons, risk assessment, soil
BACKGROUND: Per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFC) do not occur naturally in the environment and are, therefore, of anthropogenic origin. As a consequence of their wide range of everyday applications and their extreme persistence in the environment, PFC have become ubiquitous in nature and can, therefore, be detected in groundwater as well as in many other environmental matrices. The German States’ Water and Soil Consortia have compiled ‘significance thresholds’ (GFS) to assess groundwater contaminated with PFC. The GFS serve as criteria for the decision whether actions to remediate polluted groundwater are necessary. Thirteen of these PFC had been detected in groundwater at levels above their limit of quantitation and were assigned first priority. RESULTS: The data regarding human health effects were sufficient to derive guide values according to the criteria of the German Drinking Water Ordinance for 7 of the 13 first-priority PFC. With regard to available ecotoxicological data, predicted no-effect concentration values from official risk assessments existed for 2 of the 13 first-priority PFC. A predicted no-effect concentration for protection of the aquatic biocenosis could be derived for eight more substances. CONCLUSIONS: After evaluation of data from available literature regarding both human health and ecotoxicological effects, significance thresholds ranging from 0.06 to 10.0 µg/L could be derived for 7 of the 13 priority PFC in groundwater. As a practical guide valid solely for human health-based values, a summation rule was proposed for exposures to mixtures of these seven PFC.