Production of perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs) from the biotransformation of polyfluoroalkyl phosphate surfactants (PAPS): exploring routes of human contamination

Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Jul 1;41(13):4799-805. doi: 10.1021/es070126x.


Perfluorinated acids are detected in human blood world-wide, with increased levels observed in industrialized areas. The origin of this contamination is not well understood. A possible route of exposure, which has received little attention experimentally, is indirect exposure to perfluorinated acids through ingestion of chemicals applied to food contact paper packaging. The current investigation quantified the load of perfluorinated acids to Sprague-Dawley rats upon exposure to polyfluoroalkyl phosphate surfactants (PAPS), nonpolymeric fluorinated surfactants approved for application to food contact paper products. The animals were administered a single dose at 200 mg/kg by oral gavage of 8:2 fluorotelomer alcohol (8:2 FTOH) mono-phosphate (8:2 monoPAPS), or the corresponding di-phosphate (8:2 diPAPS), with blood taken over 15 days post-dosing to monitor uptake, biotransformation, and elimination. Upon completion of the time-course study the animals were redosed using an identical dosing procedure, with sacrifice and necropsy 24 h after the second dosing. Increased levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), along with both 8:2 PAPS congeners, were observed in the blood of the dosed animals. In the 8:2 monoPAPS-dosed animals, 8:2 monoPAPS and PFOA blood concentrations peaked at 7900 +/- 1200 ng/g and 34 +/- 4 ng/g respectively. In the 8:2 diPAPS-dosed animals, 8:2 diPAPS peaked in concentration at 32 +/- 6 ng/g, and 8:2 monoPAPS and PFOA peaked at 900 +/- 200 ng/g and 3.8 +/- 0.3 ng/g, respectively. Several established polyfluorinated metabolites previously identified in 8:2 FTOH metabolism studies were also observed in the dosed animals. Consistent with other fluorinated contaminants, the tissue distributions showed increased levels of both PFOA and the 8:2 PAPS congeners in the liver relative to the other tissues measured. Previous investigations have found that PAPS can migrate into food from paper packaging. Here we link ingestion of PAPS with in vivo production of perfluorinated acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotransformation
  • Carboxylic Acids / chemistry*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Fluorocarbons / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Surface-Active Agents / pharmacokinetics*


  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Surface-Active Agents