Flourochemicals in Minnesota Waters: An Emerging Environmental Issue

Project Staff: 

Principal Investigator: Matt F. Simcik, Assistant Professor, Division of Environmental & Occupational Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota

Additional Staff: Kelly J. Dorweiler, Research Assistant, Division of Environmental & Occupational Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota

Funding: 

USGS-WRRI 104B/ CAIWQ Competitive Grants Program

Project Duration: 

March 2001 - February 2003

Summary: 

Perfluorochemicals are an emerging class of global concern. To date the only established methods for their determination in environmental samples have been LC/MS/MS and 19F NMR, requiring expensive equipment. In order to open the field of investigation to a broader range of environmental laboratories, we developed a single quadrupole LC/MS method for the determination of perfluorochemicals in environmental samples employing a fluorous silica gel column for the removal of chromatographic intereference. This method has been validated for fish tissue and surface water samples. In addition to method development we have collected water, sediment and fish tissue samples to test several hypotheses. Our overall hypothesis is that the global distribution of perfluorochemicals is due to atmospheric transport. We therefore sampled a group of small lakes that are expected to only be subject to atmospheric sources. Preliminary results indicate the presence of one perfluorochemical, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), in livers from northern pike from Agnes Lake, supporting our hypothesis that atmospheric deposition is responsible for transport of perfluorochemicals to the environment. We have also collected water samples from several lakes, rivers and waste water treatment plants to determine spatial distributions in Minnesota waters and identify specific sources such as waste water treatment plants and/or urban areas.