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Identification of perfluoroalkyl acid sources in Swiss surface waters with the help of the artificial sweetener acesulfame

Müller, Claudia E., Gerecke, Andreas C., Alder, Alfredo C., Scheringer, Martin, Hungerbühler, Konrad
Environmental pollution 2011 v.159 no.5 pp. 1419-1426
acesulfame potassium, acids, emissions, households, industry, lakes, perfluorocarbons, rivers, surface water, watersheds, Switzerland
Anthropogenic perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), especially the perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are ubiquitously found in surface waters around the globe. Emissions from households, industries and also atmospheric transport/deposition are discussed as the possible sources. In this study, these sources are evaluated using Switzerland as the study area. Forty-four surface water locations in different rivers and an Alpine lake were investigated for 14 PFAAs, four precursors and acesulfame, an artificial sweetener used as a population marker. Concentrations of individual PFAAs were generally low, between 0.02 and 10 ng/L. Correlation analysis showed that some PFAAs concentrations correlated well with population and less with catchment area, indicating that emissions from population, i.e., from consumer products, is the most important source to surface waters in Switzerland. The correlation with the population marker acesulfame confirmed this observation but highlighted also a few elevated PFAA levels, some of which could be attributed to industrial emissions.