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Sources of exposure to per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) include food, water, and, given that humans spend typically 90% of their time indoors, air and dust. Quantifying PFAS that are prevalent indoors, such as neutral, volatile PFAS, and estimating their exposure risk to humans are thus important. To accurately measure these compounds indoors, polyethylene (PE) sheets were employed and validated as passive detection tools and analyzed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Air concentrations were compared to dust and carpet concentrations reported elsewhere. Partitioning between PE sheets of different thicknesses suggested that interactions of the PEs with the compounds are occurring by absorption. Volatile PFAS, specifically fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs), were ubiquitous in indoor environments. For example, in carpeted Californian kindergarten classrooms, 6:2 FTOH dominated with concentrations ranging from 9 to 600 ng m–3, followed by 8:2 FTOH. Concentrations of volatile PFAS from air, carpet, and dust were closely related to each other, indicating that carpets and dust are major sources of FTOHs in air. Nonetheless, air posed the largest exposure risk of FTOHs and biotransformed perfluorinated alkyl acids (PFAA) in young children. This research highlights inhalation of indoor air as an important exposure pathway and the need for further reduction of precursors to PFAA.

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Environmental Science & Technology Letters

Lohmann_TheAirWeBreathe_2021_SI.docx (201 kB)
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