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Accumulation of perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) in agricultural plants: A review

Ghisi, Rossella, Vamerali, Teofilo, Manzetti, Sergio
Environmental research 2019 v.169 pp. 326-341
bioaccumulation, blood proteins, food chain, fruits, green leafy vegetables, humans, industrial applications, neoplasms, perfluorocarbons, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctanoic acid, pollutants, potatoes, seeds, soil, soil amendments, soil organic matter
PFASs are a class of compounds that include perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, some of the most persistent pollutants still allowed - or only partially restricted - in several product fabrications and industrial applications worldwide. PFASs have been shown to interact with blood proteins and are suspected of causing a number of pathological responses, including cancer. Given this threat to living organisms, we carried out a broad review of possible sources of PFASs and their potential accumulation in agricultural plants, from where they can transfer to humans through the food chain. Analysis of the literature indicates a direct correlation between PFAS concentrations in soil and bioaccumulation in plants. Furthermore, plant uptake largely changes with chain length, functional group, plant species and organ. Low accumulations of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) have been found in peeled potatoes and cereal seeds, while short-chain compounds can accumulate at high levels in leafy vegetables and fruits. Significant variations in PFAS buildup in plants according to soil amendment are also found, suggesting a particular interaction with soil organic matter. Here, we identify a series of challenges that PFASs pose to the development of a safe agriculture for future generations.