Multi-year atmospheric concentrations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) at a background site in central Europe

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A total of 74 high volume air samples were collected at a background site in Czech Republic from 2012 to 2014 in which the concentrations of 20 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) were investigated. The total concentrations (gas + particle phase) ranged from 0.03 to 2.08 pg m−3 (average 0.52 pg m−3) for the sum of perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (∑PFCAs), from 0.02 to 0.85 pg m−3 (average 0.28 pg m−3) for the sum of perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (ΣPFSAs) and from below detection to 0.18 pg m−3 (average 0.05 pg m−3) for the sum of perfluorooctane sulfonamides and sulfonamidoethanols (ΣFOSA/Es). The gas phase concentrations of most PFASs were not controlled by temperature dependent sources but rather by long-range atmospheric transport. Air mass backward trajectory analysis showed that the highest concentrations of PFASs were mainly originating from continental areas. The average particle fractions (θ) of ΣPFCAs (θ = 0.74 ± 0.26) and ΣPFSAs (θ = 0.78 ± 0.22) were higher compared to ΣFOSA/Es (θ = 0.31 ± 0.35). However, they may be subject to sampling artefacts. This is the first study ever reporting PFASs concentrations in air samples collected over consecutive years. Significant decreases in 2012–2014 for PFOA, MeFOSE, EtFOSE and ∑PFCAs were observed with apparent half-lives of 1.01, 0.86, 0.92 and 1.94 years, respectively.

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Environmental Pollution