Fluorine Mass Balance and Suspect Screening in Marine Mammals from the Northern Hemisphere

There is increasing evidence that the ~20 routinely monitored per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) account for only a fraction of extractable organofluorine (EOF) occurring in the environment. To assess whether PFAS exposure is being underestimated in marine mammals from the Northern Hemisphere, we performed a fluorine mass balance on liver tissues from 11 different species using a combination of targeted PFAS analysis, EOF and total fluorine determination, and suspect screening. Samples were obtained from the east coast United States (US), west and east coast of Greenland, Iceland, and Sweden from 2000-2017. Of the 36 target PFASs, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) dominated in all but one Icelandic and three US samples, where the 7:3 fluorotelomer carboxylic acid (7:3 FTCA) was prevalent. This is the first report of 7:3 FTCA in polar bears (~1000 ng/g, ww) and cetaceans (<6-190 ng/g, ww). In 18 out of 25 samples, EOF was not significantly greater than fluorine concentrations derived from sum target PFASs. For the remaining 7 samples (mostly from the US east coast), 30-75% of the EOF was unidentified. Suspect screening revealed an additional 33 PFASs (not included in the targeted analysis) bringing the total to 59 detected PFASs from 12 different classes. Overall, these results highlight the importance of a multi-platform approach for accurately characterizing PFAS exposure in marine mammals.