Perfluoroalkyl substances assessment in drinking waters from Brazil, France and Spain

Sci Total Environ. 2016 Jan 1:539:143-152. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.08.034. Epub 2015 Sep 8.


Human exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) occurs primarily via dietary intake and drinking water. In this study, 16 PFASs have been assessed in 96 drinking waters (38 bottled waters and 58 samples of tap water) from Brazil, France and Spain. The total daily intake and the risk index (RI) of 16 PFASs through drinking water in Brazil, France and Spain have been estimated. This study was carried out using an analytical method based on an online sample enrichment followed by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The quality parameters of the analytical method were satisfactory for the analysis of the 16 selected compounds in drinking waters. Notably, the method limits of detection (MLOD) and method limits of quantification (MLOQ) were in the range of 0.15 to 8.76ng/l and 0.47 to 26.54ng/l, respectively. The results showed that the highest PFASs concentrations were found in tap water samples and the more frequently found compound was perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), with mean concentrations of 7.73, 15.33 and 15.83ng/l in French, Spanish and Brazilian samples, respectively. In addition, PFOS was detected in all tap water samples from Brazil. The highest level of PFASs contamination in a single sample was 140.48ng/l in a sample of Spanish tap water. In turn, in bottled waters the highest levels were detected in a French sample with 116ng/l as the sum of PFASs. Furthermore, the most frequent compounds and those at higher concentrations were perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA) with a mean of frequencies in the three countries of 51.3%, followed by perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS) (27.2%) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (23.0%). Considering that bottled water is approximately 38% of the total intake, the total PFASs exposure through drinking water intake for an adult man was estimated to be 54.8, 58.0 and 75.6ng/person per day in Spain, France and Brazil, respectively. However, assuming that the water content in other beverages has at least the same levels of contamination as in bottled drinking water, these amounts were increased to 72.2, 91.4 and 121.0ng/person per day for an adult man in Spain, France and Brazil, respectively. The results of total daily intake in different gender/age groups showed that children are the most exposed population group through hydration with maximum values in Brazil of 2.35 and 2.01ng/kg body weight (BW)/day for male and female, respectively. Finally, the RI was calculated. In spite of the highest values being found in Brazil, it was demonstrated that, in none of the investigated countries, drinking water pose imminent risk associated with PFASs contamination.

Keywords: Daily intake; Drinking water; Perfluoroalkyl substances; Risk index; Water.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / analysis
  • Brazil
  • Caprylates / analysis
  • Child
  • Drinking Water / chemistry*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / analysis*
  • France
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Spain
  • Sulfonic Acids / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Caprylates
  • Drinking Water
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Sulfonic Acids
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • perfluorobutanesulfonic acid
  • perfluorooctanoic acid
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid