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Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a diverse class of fluorinated anthropogenic chemicals that include perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAA), which are widely used in modern commerce. Many products and environmental samples contain abundant precursors that can degrade into terminal PFAA associated with adverse health effects. Fish consumption is an important dietary exposure source for PFAS that bioaccumulate in food webs. However, little is known about bioaccumulation of PFAA precursors. Here, we identify and quantify PFAS in recreational fish species collected from surface waters across New Hampshire, US, using a toolbox of analytical methods. Targeted analysis of paired water and tissue samples suggests that many precursors below detection in water have a higher bioaccumulation potential than their terminal PFAA. Perfluorobutane sulfonamide (FBSA), a short-chain precursor produced by electrochemical fluorination, was detected in all fish samples analyzed for this compound. The total oxidizable precursor assay interpreted using Bayesian inference revealed fish muscle tissue contained additional, short-chain precursors in high concentration samples. Suspect screening analysis indicated these were perfluoroalkyl sulfonamide precursors with three and five perfluorinated carbons. Fish consumption advisories are primarily being developed for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), but this work reinforces the need for risk evaluations to consider additional bioaccumulative PFAS, including perfluoroalkyl sulfonamide precursors.

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Environmental Science & Technology



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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.