Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in the Air Particles of Asia: Levels, Seasonality, and Size-Dependent Distribution

Environ Sci Technol. 2020 Nov 17;54(22):14182-14191. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.0c03387. Epub 2020 Nov 6.


Information regarding the size-dependent distribution of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in atmospheric particulate matter (PM) is very limited. In this study, 248 size-specific PM samples were collected from 9 Asian cities using a portable 4-stage cascade impactor for the analysis of PFAS. Of the 34 investigated PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) were the major compounds. In particular, the emerging PFAS, hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid, was quantified in the PM for the first time, with concentrations ranging from <0.086 to 21.5 pg/m3. Spatially, PFOA and PFOS were the predominant compounds in China, while precursors, emerging PFAS, and short-chain PFAS dominated in India, Japan, and South Korea, respectively. Seasonal variations of PFAS may be controlled by regional climate, local or seasonal emission sources, and long-range transport of air masses. Size-dependent distribution was investigated, showing that the majority of PFAS predominantly affiliated in fine particles, while PFOS and its alternatives tended to attach on coarser particles. Moreover, PFOS distributed on specific sizes exhibited seasonal and regional dependency, while no such patterns were observed for PFOA. These findings will provide useful information on the geographical and size-dependent distribution of PFAS in the atmospheric PM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkanesulfonic Acids* / analysis
  • Asia
  • China
  • Cities
  • Fluorocarbons* / analysis
  • India
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Fluorocarbons