Water has been identified as one of the main routes of human exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). This work assessed the presence of 21 PFASs along the whole water cycle using a new fast and cost effective analytical method based on an online sample enrichment followed by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The method was validated for different types of matrices (ultrapure water, tap water and treated wastewater). The quality parameters for the 21 selected compounds presented good limits of detection (LOD) and quantification (LOQ) ranging, in general, from 0.83-10 ng/L to 2.8-50 ng/L, respectively. The method was applied to assess the occurrence of PFASs in 148 water samples of different steps along the whole water cycle, including: mineral bottled water, tap water, river water and treated effluent wastewater, from Germany to Spain. In addition, in order to prove the good performance of the online analytical method, the analysis of PFASs was carried out in parallel using a method based on offline anionic solid phase extraction (SPE) followed by LC-MS/MS. Consistent results were obtained using both approaches. The more frequently found compounds were perfluoroalkyl acids, such as the perfluorobutanoic acid which was in the 54% of the tap water samples investigated with concentrations in the range between 2.4 and 27 ng/L, the perfluoroheptanoic acid (0.23-53 ng/L) and perfluorooctanoic acid (0.16-35 ng/L), and the sulphonate perfluorooctanesulfonate (0.04-258 ng/L) which was the second more frequent compound and also the compound found in with the higher concentration. It should be remarked that the 88% of the samples analyzed presented at least one of the compounds at quantifiable concentrations. In addition, PFASs including short chain compounds were proved to be prevalent in drinking water, and the 50% of the drinking water samples showed quantifiable concentrations of PFASs. It should be said that the great majority of the samples may not pose an immediate health risk to consumers, and just 6 of the drinking water samples presented concentrations of PFOS exceeding the Provisional Health Advisory (PHA) level established by the Office of Water from the USEPA for PFOS, which was set in 200 ng/L.
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