The occurrence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in aquatic ecosystems is a global concern because of their persistence, potential bioaccumulation, and toxicity. In this study, we investigated a PFAS-contaminated pond in Sweden to assess the cross-boundary transfer of PFASs from the aquatic environment to the riparian zone via emergent aquatic insects. Aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, surface water, sediments, soils, and plants were analyzed for 24 PFASs including branched isomers. Stable isotope analysis of carbon and nitrogen was performed to elucidate the importance of diet and trophic position for PFAS uptake. We present the first evidence that PFASs can propagate to the riparian food web via aquatic emergent insects. Elevated S24PFAS concentrations were found in aquatic insect larvae, such as dragon- and damselflies, ranging from 1100 to 4600 ng g-1 dry weight (dw), and remained high in emerged adults (120-3500 ng g-1 dw), indicating exposure risks for top predators that prey in riparian zones. In terrestrial invertebrate consumers, PFAS concentrations increased with the degree of aquatic-based diet and at higher trophic levels. Furthermore, stable isotope data together with calculated bioaccumulation factors indicated that bioconcentration of PFASs was the major pathway of exposure in the aquatic food web and bioaccumulation in the riparian food web.
Major point sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) cause ubiquitous spread of PFASs in the environment. In this study, surface water and aquatic invertebrates at three Swedish sites impacted by PFAS point sources were characterized, using homologue, isomer and extractable organofluorine (EOF) profiling as well as estimation of bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) and mass discharge. Two sites were impacted by fire training (sites A and R) and the third by industrial runoff (site K). Mean S25PFASs concentration in water was 1920 ng L-1 at site R (n = 3), which was more than 20- and 10-fold higher than those from sites A and K, respectively. PFOS was the most predominant PFAS in all waters samples, constituting 29-79% of S25PFAS concentrations. Several branched isomers were detected and they substantially contributed to concentrations in surface water (e.g. 49-78% of SPFOS) and aquatic invertebrates (e.g. 15-28% of SPFOS). BAFs in the aquatic invertebrates indicated higher bioaccumulation for long chain PFASs and lower bioaccumulation for branched PFOS isomers compared to linear PFOS. EOF mass balance showed that S25target PFASs in water could explain up to 55% of EOF at site R. However, larger proportions of EOF (>92%) remained unknown in water from sites A and K. Mass discharges were for the first time estimated for EOF and revealed that high amounts of EOF (e.g. 8.2 g F day-1 at site A) could be transported by water to recipient water bodies relative to S25PFASs (e.g. 0.15 g day-1 at site A). Overall, we showed that composition profiling, BAFs and EOF mass balance can improve the characterization of PFASs around point sources.