Half-lives of several polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in cattle serum and tissues

Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2022 Feb;39(2):320-340. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2021.1991004. Epub 2021 Nov 3.


Cattle that were at steady-state serum polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) concentrations due to several years of exposure to water contaminated by residues of Aqueous Film-Forming (AFFF) firefighting foam had perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS) isomers, perfluoroheptane sulphonate (PFHpS), perfluorohexane sulphonate (PFHxS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) and perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) in serum. Elimination serum half-lives were determined in five heifers from serial blood sampling over 215 days. Eleven additional animals that had blood sampled on day 19 (d19) were euthanised on d63. PFAS half-life estimates from the serial blood sampling and from d19/d63 data were not significantly different. The combined (n = 16) serum half-lives (in days) were: total PFOS (tPFOS, 74.1 ± 13.4), PFHpS (45.7 ± 9.4), PFHxS (9.3 ± 1.3), PFNA (12.3 ± 3.2) and PFDA (60.4 ± 10.4). The half-lives of linear PFOS (L-PFOS, 69.4 ± 11.6) and mono branched PFOS isomers (m-PFOS, 83.6 ± 19) were not significantly different from tPFOS, but for the di-branched isomers (di-PFOS), the serum half-life was significantly lower (29.9 ± 5.8). Animal age (1.4-12.3 years old) and serum concentration at the start of depuration did not influence half-lives, and there was no difference between steers and heifers. Consideration of serum and tissue PFAS concentrations at d63 and d215 indicated there was no difference in tPFOS depuration from serum or muscle, but elimination from liver and kidney may be slightly longer. Depuration of PFHpS is essentially the same in serum, kidney and liver, and it is expected depletion from muscle would be comparable. The short half-life of di-PFOS, PFHxS and PFNA did not allow an assessment of clearance from tissues because they were not measurable at d215 but based on the results for PFOS and PFHpS, elimination of PFHxS from tissues is expected to mirror that from serum. Human health risk assessment implications are discussed.

Keywords: PFAS; cattle; serum/tissue half-life.

MeSH terms

  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / blood*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Decanoic Acids / blood*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Fluorocarbons / blood*
  • Kidney / chemistry*
  • Liver / chemistry*


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Decanoic Acids
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons
  • perfluorodecanoic acid
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid