Biomagnification of perfluorinated compounds in a remote terrestrial food chain: Lichen-Caribou-wolf.

Research paper by Claudia E CE Müller, Amila O AO De Silva, Jeff J Small, Mary M Williamson, Xiaowa X Wang, Adam A Morris, Sharon S Katz, Mary M Gamberg, Derek C G DC Muir

Indexed on: 13 Sep '11Published on: 13 Sep '11Published in: Environmental Science & Technology


The biomagnification behavior of perfluorinated carboxylates (PFCAs) and perfluorinated sulfonates (PFSAs) was studied in terrestrial food webs consisting of lichen and plants, caribou, and wolves from two remote northern areas in Canada. Six PFCAs with eight to thirteen carbons and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) were regularly detected in all species. Lowest concentrations were found for vegetation (0.02-0.26 ng/g wet weight (ww) sum (Σ) PFCAs and 0.002-0.038 ng/g ww PFOS). Wolf liver showed highest concentrations (10-18 ng/g ww ΣPFCAs and 1.4-1.7 ng/g ww PFOS) followed by caribou liver (6-10 ng/g ww ΣPFCAs and 0.7-2.2 ng/g ww PFOS). Biomagnification factors were highly tissue and substance specific. Therefore, individual whole body concentrations were calculated and used for biomagnification and trophic magnification assessment. Trophic magnification factors (TMF) were highest for PFCAs with nine to eleven carbons (TMF = 2.2-2.9) as well as PFOS (TMF = 2.3-2.6) and all but perfluorooctanoate were significantly biomagnified. The relationship of PFCA and PFSA TMFs with the chain length in the terrestrial food chain was similar to previous studies for Arctic marine mammal food web, but the absolute values of TMFs were around two times lower for this study than in the marine environment. This study demonstrates that challenges remain for applying the TMF approach to studies of biomagnification of PFCAs and PFSAs, especially for terrestrial animals.