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Environ Sci Technol 2013 Feb 5;47(3):1381-9

Biodegradation of N-ethyl perfluorooctane sulfonamido ethanol (EtFOSE) and EtFOSE-based phosphate diester (SAmPAP diester) in marine sediments.

Benskin JP, Ikonomou MG, Gobas FA, Begley TH, Woudneh MB, Cosgrove JR


Investigations into the biodegradation potential of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)-precursor candidates have focused on low molecular weight substances (e.g., N-ethyl perfluorooctane sulfonamido ethanol (EtFOSE)) in wastewater treatment plant sludge. Few data are available on PFOS-precursor biodegradation in other environmental compartments, and nothing is known about the stability of high-molecular-weight perfluorooctane sulfonamide-based substances such as the EtFOSE-based phosphate diester (SAmPAP diester) in any environmental compartment. In the present work, the biodegradation potential of SAmPAP diester and EtFOSE by bacteria in marine sediments was evaluated over 120 days at 4 and 25 degrees C. At both temperatures, EtFOSE was transformed to a suite of products, including N-ethyl perfluorooctane sulfonamidoacetate, perfluorooctane sulfonamidoacetate, N-ethyl perfluorooctane sulfonamide, perfluorooctane sulfonamide, and perfluorooctane sulfonate. Transformation was significantly more rapid at 25 degrees C (t(1/2) = 44 +/- 3.4 days; error represents standard error of the mean (SEM)) compared to 4 degrees C (t(1/2) = 160 +/- 17 days), but much longer than previous biodegradation studies involving EtFOSE in sludge (t(1/2) approximately 0.7-4.2 days). In contrast, SAmPAP diester was highly recalcitrant to microbial degradation, with negligible loss and/or associated product formation observed after 120 days at both temperatures, and an estimated half-life of >380 days at 25 degrees C (estimated using the lower bounds 95% confidence interval of the slope). We hypothesize that the hydrophobicity of SAmPAP diester reduces its bioavailability, thus limiting biotransformation by bacteria in sediments. The lengthy biodegradation half-life of EtFOSE and recalcitrant nature of SAmPAP diester in part explains the elevated concentrations of PFOS-precursors observed in urban marine sediments from Canada, Japan, and the U.S, over a decade after phase-out of their production and commercial application in these countries.

Category: Journal Article
PubMed ID: #23305554 DOI: 10.1021/es304336r
Includes FDA Authors from Scientific Area(s): Food
Entry Created: 2013-04-01