Indoor sources of poly- and perfluorinated compounds (PFCS) in Vancouver, Canada: implications for human exposure

Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Oct 1;45(19):7999-8005. doi: 10.1021/es103562v. Epub 2011 Feb 18.


Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) are widely detected in human blood and serum and are of concern due to their potential toxicity. This study investigated the indoor sources of these compounds and their neutral precursors through a survey of 152 homes in Vancouver, Canada. Samples were collected of indoor air, outdoor air, indoor dust, and clothes dryer lint and analyzed for neutral [i.e., fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs), perfluorooctane sulfonamide (FOSA), and perfluorooctane sulfonamidoethanol (FOSE)] and ionic [i.e., PFOS and perfluoroalkyl carboxylates (PFCAs)] poly- and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). Indoor air was dominated by 8:2 FTOH with a geometric mean concentration (pg/m(3)) of 2900. Among the FOSAs and FOSEs, MeFOSE exhibited the highest air concentration with a geometric mean of 380 pg/m(3). PFOA was the major ionic PFC and was detected in all indoor air samples with a geometric mean of 28 pg/m(3), whereas PFOS was below the detection limit. The results for the ionic PFCs in indoor air are the first for North America. The pattern of the neutral PFCs in house dust was also dominated by 8:2 FTOH, with a geometric mean of 88 ng/g. Dusts were enriched (relative to air) with sulfonamidoethanol (FOSE) which comprised ∼22% of the total neutral PFC content compared to only ∼3% in air. PFOS and PFOA were the most prominent compounds detected in dust samples. Levels of neutral PFCs in clothes dryer lint were an order of magnitude lower compared to house dust. Human exposure estimates to PFCs for adults and children showed that inhalation was the main exposure route for neutral and ionic PFCs in adults. For toddlers, ingestion of PFCs via dust was more relevant and was on the order of a few mg/day. Results from this study contribute to our understanding of exposure pathways of PFCs to humans. This will facilitate investigations of related health effects and human monitoring data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air / analysis
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Canada
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clothing
  • Dust / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Ions
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Quality Control


  • Dust
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Ions